Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Cat and the Canary is the greatest movie of all time


The Cat and the Canary. Third film in the Greatest Years in Cinema Project. Fourth film from 1939 in total. Fulfilling the obligatory horror portion of the project, it is a fun little comedy horror flick. No Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein but it is solid enough. Probably shan't be watching it again any time ever, but it was fine.

Was based on a 1922 stage play by John Willard. This was the third of  six versions based on the play. Others included a 1927 silent version, The Cat Creeps from 1930 which was the first Universal horror film with sound and dialogue (it is considered a lost film), 1941's The Black Cat which has a different ending, and 1979 British version with people you've never heard of.

The look of someone who's had enough of this shit
Stars Paulette Goddard, a pretty lady known for her work with then husband Charlie fucking Chaplin (they divorced in 1942), she was the lead lady in both Modern Times and The Great Dictator, which came out in 1940, the no introduction needed Bob Hope who yucks it up throughout the whole flick, and Gale Sondergaard (she plays the mistress of the estate, Miss Lu) who was originally cast in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's classic The Wizard of Oz, which you may have heard of, in the role of the Wicked Witch of the West. At that point in the production, the character was conceived as a more glamorous type witch, like the Snow Queen of Narnia or something, but when they decided on the green skin and prosthetics, she called bullshit on that. Honestly, even with how beloved the film is now, probably a good call on her part, which I will get into in more detail when I write about that movie. But Sondergaard didn't hurt for work. In her early 40s when this movie was released, the lady cranked out 39 roles in 10 years but most of the movies were of the B-horror variety.

Gist of the movie is that 10 years after old rich guy Cyrus Norman his family and a random actor, one wisecracking actor Wally Campbell (Hope), gather for the reading of Norman's estate which he has left to distant relative Joyce Norman (Goddard) who gets everything so long as she can stay sane for like a night and a day, which proves difficult as a bunch of shit goes down. If she can't keep it together, it all goes to someone else whose name is sealed in an envelope, supposedly unknown. Yeah, this doesn't make a lot of sense. The point, it seems, was to make her look crazy but it's hard to be like, "she is cray, give me the money!" when the executor of the will gets murdered within an hour proving that someone is out to get her.

Goddard is solid enough in this though she wasn't really asked to carry the movie. A bit more on Goddard's 1939, she was originally considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind and even did some Technicolor screen tests. Producer David O. Selznick and original director George Cukor liked her enough that they were willing to set her up with an acting coach. That was until Vivien Leigh auditioned for the part. There are, however, rumors that her relationship, both personal and professional, with Chaplin played into the decision to go with Leigh over Goddard. As it goes, Selznick was worried about the scandal of Chaplin and Goddard's relationship status, living in sin, supposedly, there are questions about the legality of their marriage, but that seems like bullshit because everyone involved here knew that Leigh and Lawrence Olivier had the same shit going on. There was also Goddard's pre-existing contract with Chaplin's studio which may have had legal implications with casting her. That too seems like horse shit. It's more likely that Leigh was just too perfect for the role and Goddard was considered slightly too old. You can read more about all this in The Atlantic article "The Making of Gone With The Wind (Part I)" which is a hell of a read.

Overall, a pretty enjoyable watch with some pretty solid suspense, especially at the end. The set design is what I walked away most impressed with. Dark passageways and a foggy estate in the Bayou where a mysterious monster lurks. Supposedly this and the 1940 film The Ghost Breakers which also starred Hope and Goddard and sounds like more or less the same movie were what inspired the design of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.

Believe there are shades of this movie in Murder Mystery, a Jenifer Aniston Adam Sandler Netflix movie, also maybe the New Orleans haunted house/demon baby movie Hell Baby. At the end it is hard to say who is against her and who has her best interest in mind. Not super surprising who the killer is but you are kept guessing until the reveal at the end. Hope was sort of funny in a dad joke kind of way and probably won the movie. He is solid, I guess, but way over the top.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is seriously the greatest movie of all time


Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood. Oh my fucking gawd ya'll. Two lines from the movie sum up my reactions to the movie, "That was the best acting I've ever seen in my whole life" and "You're real, right?" Or something like that. Sort of Tarantino's way of telling you what he thinks about the film. Like when Aldo at the end of Inglourious Bastards says, "I think this just might be my masterpiece." At least the first one, any way. Lot of chicken mole, amigos. Rotten Tomato score is 85% Fresh. This is a travesty. In no frame of mind to definitively say this, but after one viewing, it is my favorite Taratino movie. At least on this night.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Thrillingly unrestrained yet solidly crafted, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tempers Tarantino's provocative impulses with the clarity of a mature filmmaker's vision.

Gist of the movie is that a "has been" actor (who lives next door to Sharon Tate), one Rick Dalton played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his stunt double, Cliff Booth played by Brad Pitt, who is more than a brother and not quite a wife go about and hang around, doing their things in L.A. in 1969, building up to the violence that you know is coming at the hands of the Manson Family. The trailer makes it look like a Manson flick mostly dealing with the murder of Sharon Tate, played wonderfully by Margot Robbie, but it is really a buddy hangout movie. Great one at that. Minimal violence for a Tarantino movie and then we get what we were waiting for.

The Tate family, notably sister Debra, was originally pissed that Tarantino and company were making this movie that they planned on being released on the 50th anniversary of Sharon and company's murder. Then the director met with her and she gave the film her blessing. Now she come down firmly in Tarantino's defense, saying that the movie made her cry and how touched she was by Robbie's performance. She has even gone as far to say that she wished he would make a movie completely dedicated to her and what not. So really came around on that one. After seeing, you can totally see why.

Some of the bullet points. Leo and Pitt. These two together are the perfect duo and their performances are amazing. They should both be nominated for Best Actor.

First, Pitt. Cliff is one of the great Tarantino characters. Little bit of Aldo in him from GB. Also some shades of Rusty Ryan and Tyler Durden. He and Tarantino both independently saw the character as a Billy Jack type which he totes is. If you haven't seen that, it is basically about an extremely masculine but cool dude who can kick some fucking ass. We find out maybe halfway through the movie that he has done some shit that makes him a bastard. But he is such a great dude otherwise and is so fucking cool, you don't care. A personal fave scene with him is the one where he ends up at the Spahn Ranch, taking one Pussycat back to her people. It is tense as fuck as Manson Family members come out of the woodwork and ominously stare him down. You feel that he is in real danger and there are red flags popping up everywhere but he is a coffin nail, this guy. When he kicks the shit out of Steve "Clem" Grogan for slashing his tire, this is the guy who in real life was recommended to die after the Manson Family trial but then sentenced to life (he would get out on parole in 1985, incredibly) because as Judge James Kolts said during the sentencing, "Grogan was too stupid and too hopped on drugs to decide anything on his own," for slashing his tires when one of the hippy chicks runs off to get Tex Watson (the kid that plays Tex is one Austin Butler who was also in The Dead Don't Die whom I had never seen before a month ago and is now everywhere) who hauls ass back to the scene. The way he moves and the crazed look he has about him, you know shit was really about to go down. Plus, all this echos what happened to the real life stuntman Donald Shea at the hands of the MF. Shea was checking on George Spahn just as Cliff does in the film and calls the police on them. After the cops raided the ranch, Manson and company murdered the guy, burying his body near the property. Anyway, yeah, if you know about this shit it is even more ominous and you are even more freaked out. Also, him being a guy who never was in shit sort of follows an alternative path for the actor. Like if he was just a guy who played little roles like the one he had in True Romance.

Now Leo. Dude wins the film. Pitt was fucking sick. It is almost unbelievable, these two together, acting the shit out of this movie. A cool ass actor doing good ass work. That's Leo and his character, Rick fucking Dalton, in the film. Best when is sort of losing his shit. His is career is basically over with the arrival of New Hollywood (also called the "American New Wave") ushered in in 1967 with Bonnie and Clyde. No more Rick Dalton as a leading man, he is now relegated to television, playing a big that gets his ass kicked by the next big thing that comes along. The show that his character is acting in with the movie, Lancer, was a real show that ran from 1968-70. In the movie Lancer looks amazing.  I tried to watch an episode, "Blue Skies for Willie Sharpe," and it was fucking terrible. Production wise it was like watching someones home movie or something. I was expecting Howard Hawks. I think it was Tarantino joke. Having Dalton telling himself in the mirror that if he doesn't get his lines right, he was going to go home and blow his brains out, taking this shit so goddamned seriously for a show that was meh. That's his best scene in the movie. Might be saying it is a job and this guy fucking takes it seriously. In any case, love all the acting stuff with character. This is where he really shines, Leo that is. So many layers there. Pretending to be a good actor doing a shitty job and then freaking out. Then acting as this guy acting and fucking killing it. It was mind blowing how good that stuff was. So much so that they address it in the film.

Finally, there is Robbie as Tate. Her portrayal is so bubbly and likable, you feel protective of her. She is almost larger than life at first. Hanging out with Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips at the Playboy Mansion. Driving around LA with Roman Polanski. She is New Hollywood and very cool. But then were see her out and about. Stopping at a theater to watch a movie that she is in. No one knows her. It is sort of humbling but she is just excited to be there and hear people's reactions to her work. She isn't famous at this point, but this isn't something she seems to really care about. More just happy to be a part of it. She doesn't say a lot but she does such a good job and it is all done so delicately, you really get a sense of who she is and what she was like. You want her to live and you think of what she could have become. It feels like this is a woman picked for stardom for a new era, she just hasn't gotten there yet. Plus, Robbie is so pretty and that 1969 look is good for her. I don't mean to objectify her because she is so talented. But she is like painfully beautiful in this movie. Some critics have made a big deal of her character's lack of lines and shit. This is bullshit and sort of demeans her performance. She doesn't need to say a lot to knock it out of the park, which she does.

Some other things that really stand out include the cool as shit 1960s world that Tarantino builds, (getting into spoilerish territory here) the crazy ass ending, and the fucking insane cast. Not sure there has ever been a cast like this. There are three above. Fucking sick, right? Then there are the other people that kill in the couple of minutes where they are on screen. Folks that play historical figures like Bruce Dern as George Spahn, Emile Hirsch as Jay Sebring, and Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen. Random industry people some of which are real and others not like Zoë Bell and Kurt Russell play a stunt coordinating couple, Nicholas Hammond as Sam Wanamaker, Timothy Olyphant of the TV western Lancer James Stacy, and Al Pacino as a film producer. Various recognizable faces in the Manson clan, like Butler as Tex, Lena Dunham, Dakota Fanning as the notorious Squeaky Fromme, Danielle Harris from Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and Margaret Qualley was sort of the biggest standout from the Family as Pussycat. A few kids of famous people like Kevin Smith's daughter Harley Quinn Smith (still sour on him after he was an asshole at a comedy club appearance in town) who was a random Manson Girl--whom I found out is a vegan, so totally in my cool book--and Rumer Willis, the spawn of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, who played Joanna Pettet. A couple of 1990s people that were tapped for stardom that never came, in this camp were Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legends star/Noxzema Girl from the 1990s) as the wife Cliff kills and Luke Perry as Wayne Maunder who shows up as an actor on Lancer. Then there are a lot of people that would maybe get second billing in a lesser movie, guys like Clifton Collins Jr. and Michael Madsen and James Remar, for example, that are basically just extras in this flick. Hell, even Clu Gulager makes a cameo as the bookstore owner.

Also, Tarantino doesn't seem to like Bruce Lee (portrayed in the film by one  Mike Moh). The character is sort of a prick and overall looks ridiculous. Plus, Pitt's character makes him look like a loudmouth who can't really even fight. That is a fantastic scene by the way. Everyone in the theater I watched it with was losing their minds when Lee challenges Cliff to a fight and has a random guy hold his jacket and the guy tells him that Cliff has a rep for being crazy. "What did he do?" "Killed his wife and got away with it." Lee looks at him like WTF. Fucking great. Apparently, Lee's surviving family is pissed.

A personal aside I think is relevant on how good I felt the movie was. So I am definitively an ex smoker. However, I allow myself one a year which I've not partaken in for some time. So, yeah, great Tarantino movie, second to last, supposedly. So I had my first cigarette since 2013 to commemorate it. I smoked about half of it and tried to really enjoy it which I sort of did. Could go for one of those acid dipped ones though. That I'll tell you.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Adventures in Babysitting is the greatest movie of all time


Adventures in Babysitting. I've got the babysitting blues. Love this film that I was shocked to learn was not a John Hughes movie. Was indeed the first movie directed by Chris Columbus (who previously wrote Gremlins, The Goonies, and Young Sherlock Holmes all movies I love) who would go on to direct Home Alone which was written by Hughes. I mean, it is the light 1980s babysitting movie about high school kids in the suburbs of Chicago not directed or written by John Hughes. It is all very confusing. But a great movie that I remember fondly. Columbus, by the way, would go on to direct the first two Harry Potter films. Pretty safe to say he wins the movie as this flick really propels his career though after winning an infamous Golden Raspberry Award (a parody award) for Worst Picture for 2015's Pixels, everything has since sort of come to screeching halt. But that is none of our concern here.

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Sweet and spry, Adventures in Babysitting gets by on its amiable tone.

Gist of the movie is that senior in high school babysitter, played by Elizabeth Shue who is so pretty, has to pick up her friend Brenda, played by Penelope Ann Miller, who ran away from home, in downtown Chicago which is apparently the most dangerous place on earth. She has to take the kids along with her. Shit goes down.

Playing the kids are Keith Coogan who has the worst haircut of anyone I've ever seen and in the ninth grade is embarrassingly too old for a babysitter, little sister Maia Brewton, and Coogan's buddy played by Anthony Rapp. Shue's boyfriend is played by one Bradley Whitford whom you might remember from Billy Madison and The Cabin in the Woods. He is a fucking prick and an idiot. Other notable actors include a young Brett Kavenaugh who plays the dude Shue wants to get with at the University of Chicago (not really) and a young Vincent D'Onofrio plays Dawson, the garage/tow company owner who looks supposedly like Thor.

Some bullet points include the children witnessing five or six major crimes and nearly getting murdered. You see, Chicago in this universe is an all out hellscape. Much of the plot centers on the most popular Playboy of all-time and features a chick that looks a lot like Shue but is indeed not actually Shue. There is a scene where Shue and company go to an all-black blues club where everyone, including them, are forced to sing the blues before leaving. It is pretty racist. And a couple of rape jokes get thrown around which are always hilarious and appropriate for a children's movie. Like when Shue's character tells Rapp's character if he gives her any grief that she swears to god she will kill him. "Dead, murdered, stabbed," she says. "Raped?" Rapp's character says.

Speaking of Rapp and rape, you may recall an interview he did with BuzzFeed where he said not long before this movie came out, when he was 14, that a 26 year old Kevin Spacey of American Beauty and The Usual Suspects fame got drunk and tried to have sex with the child. Spacey tried to deflect by coming out of the closet (and, you know, implying a connection between being gay and sexually assaulting a minor) and making a bullshit apology but then 15 other people came forward accusing Spacey of similar fucked up shit. Because they really want your blood to boil, after a groping charge against Spacey was dropped last week after the accuser invoked the Fifth, I saw the disgusting headline "Comeback Kid! Kevin Spacey Ready For Return After Sex Assault Charges Dropped" on a fucking amoral clickbate website that you can Google if you really give a shit.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is the greatest movie of all time


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. I know what gold does to men's souls... Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges! John Huston movie from 1948. Amazing film. Winner of three Academy Awards. One for the father of Huston, Walter, for Best Supporting. Two for John, one for Best Director and one for Best Adapted Screenplay. When daughter Anjelica Huston won for Best Supporting in 1985 for Prizzi's Honor, haven't seen it and looks terrible, they became the first three generation family to win Academy Awards. The Coppollas have since done this as well. Filmed on location just because Huston was an adventurer and wanted to go to Mexico. Also get away from the studio. Humphrey Bogart is completely fucking deranged in this extremely dark flick. Huston's old man, Walter, becomes what we collectively think of when we think olde timey prospector. A first time watch, this instantly became one of my favorite films. Been on a John Huston kick since watching the documentary They'll Love Me When I'm Dead about the until recently unreleased film The Other Side of the Wind by one Orson Welles. Huston is like the Dos XX guy except not irritating and real. His look and his voice. Cool shit. Fathered the lovely Angelica Huston, hands down my female companion's favorite. Also, you may have heard, he's a pretty solid filmmaker. This film is considered one of his best though this is one of four he directed with a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes (along with Fat City, The Maltese Falcon, and The Misfits).

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Remade but never duplicated, this darkly humorous morality tale represents John Huston at his finest.

Gist of the movie is two dirt poor Americans living in Mexico, Bob Curtin played by Tim Holt and wild man Fred C. Dobbs played by Humphrey Bogart, desperate for money, decide to join a old prospector, Howard who is played by the director's father, Walter Huston, in the Sierra Madre Mountains to mine for gold. The three make a fortune but bandits and greed brings it all crashing down.

While Huston the elder won the Academy Award for Best Supporting, it is Bogie's deranged performance that is most memorable. First off, dude looks like complete shit. It is rumored that he was taking fertility drugs, he and wife Lauren Bacall were trying to conceive, but that may or may not be bullshit. What is known is that he showed up bald and aged which doctors blamed on heavy drinking and a vitamin B deficiency. Huston rolled with it though as it just made the character that much crazier. He goes from being a shortsighted bum asking an American, played by the director, multiple times for money for food, never bothering to look the guy in the eye, to a completely uncontrollable Gollum type figure, completely obsessing over his newfound wealth.

I mean, at first he was a guy who couldn't pick the guy giving him handouts out of a lineup, begrudged the guy keeping him alive rather than being thankful. Then he and partner Bob get a gig that involves a lot of work from an American contractor with a huge payday at the end which never comes. The guy completely suckers them. Next thing you know, they run into the guy at a bar where he tries to sucker them again. An extremely clumsy and realistic fight breaks out when the labor boss knows he's fucked and goes on the offensive, attacking them with a bottle. They eventually kick the shit out of the guy with Bogart's character reaching into the guy's wallet and taking only the money they were owed. Later in the movie, after they have found enough gold to support the men for a lifetime, not long after buddy Bob saves Dobbs's life when he gets trapped in a mine, the unhinged Bogart character comes completely undone, obsessively fixed on Bob and Howard cutting him out and taking his share for themselves. Late in the movie, when Howard is living it up in a Mexican village after saving a child's life, it is just Dobbs and Curtin making their way to town. But Dobbs is already gone by that point, his mind clawed out, he tells Curtin, whom he has attacked and has him at gunpoint, that once he falls asleep, he is going to kill him. The wild look in his eye after staying up for days is fucking chilling. You sure as shit don't want him in your party, you outlasting him in an endurance contest for your life. Yeah, he totally wins the movie.

A young Robert Blake, passing as Mexican
All of that stuff with the three guys finding all that gold and it destroying at least one of them and them ending up with nothing in the end reminds me of "The Pardoner's Tale" from the Canterbury Tales, my favorite among them. In that three men search for Death whereupon they encounter an old man who says he saw Death behind a tree. When they go to that tree they find gold and guard it overnight. At first all is good but when they draw straws, sending the youngest one to town for food and wine, the two left behind plot to kill him, which they do. But they soon discover that the younger man has poisoned their provisions and die a painful, grueling death. The difference between this tale and the movie, however, is that only Dobbs had murder on his mind. The other two, though they lose everything, literally laugh it off in the end at the absurdity of the situation.

Huston, looking fly
This is also one of those films with lots of great stories coming out of the production. Like how John Huston adopted an orphan child. Or how Italian American Our Gang child star Robert Blake, who would later go on to star in such films as In Cold Blood/play a minor but pivotal part in Lost Highway and eventually murder his future wife, played the little Mexican boy selling lottery numbers, which Bogart's character wins. But the weirdest of this has to be the story of one Hal Croves's presence on set and the theory surrounding his identity.

The gist of this is that the author of the novel that the movie is based on, B. Traven, was extremely reclusive with all the details about him, including his name or real identity, subject to dispute. As I read about this guy, I became certain that this is who Roberto Bolaño based his novelist character Benno von Archimboldi in the book 2666, one of my three favorite books of all-time. (A quick Google search showed I wasn't alone in this theory). Anyway, the author was supposed to show up on set and work as a technical advisor for $1000 a week but instead a guy claiming the name Hal Croves, said to be a close friend of the author, showed up in his stead. Pretty much everyone was like, uh, this is obviously Traven, though he denied it, but Huston didn't want to make a big deal about it. He was getting a knowledgeable adviser and translator for $150 a week instead of a grand and respected the guy's privacy. He later even wrote in his autobiography that he ultimately didn't think they were the same person because of the way he spoke and acted IRL was so different than their correspondence via letters and such. Huston further explained that a lot of this theorizing was the result of people on set asking Croves if he was Traven and him denying it in this bullshitty way that made people think he was indeed full of shit. However, Huston's wife at the time, actress Evelyn Keyes, who was apparently cool with Huston's impromptu adoption of a Mexican child, by the by, was sure they were the goddamn person. According to her, Croves said "I" instead of "he" and basically sounded exactly like the guy in the letters he had written to Huston. Fascinating shit you can read about along with who Traven may or may not have really been in "The Mystery of B. Traven," a nice piece of journalism, at Vice.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the greatest movie of all time


The Hound of the Baskervilles. Oh, Watson. The needle. Second movie of the Greatest Years in Cinema Project. Third from 1939. Great flick. Thought I knew the story but the film threw me for a loop. Solid performances. Basil Rathbone sets that early standard for Sherlock Holmes and totally wins the movie. Richard Greene, who strangely got top billing as 20th Century-Fox didn't think that Sherlock was a bankable character, as Sir Henry Baskerville is notably great as well. Suspenseful and atmospheric, the moor where the film takes place are dark and ghostly. Still one of the best portrayals of the character.

Not super faithful to the Arthur Conan Doyle novel but considered one of the best of what is likely his most beloved work, the gist of the film is that Holmes, along with Dr. Watson (played by Nigel Bruce) who is portrayed as something of chubby-cheeked embarrassment, investigate a legendary giant dog that supposedly curses the Baskerville family in a "black dog" situation as this dog is a fucking bear.

This film is extremely enjoyable and at times pretty funny. Not sure how intentional much of that is. Like the scene where this beast of a dog pushes a guy off a cliff. More of a cat move if you ask me. Also, there is this guy Mr. Franklin who is a just crazy asshole. He keeps accusing this Jack Stapleton guy , neighbor of Sir Baskerville, of being a body snatcher for what we learn is basic anthropological work. Towards the end he offers Baskerville a ride but he is like, "well, since there is nothing to worry about, I'm gonna walk." This old fart is all "Fine, reject it, just doing it to be polite."

Holmes has his moments of humor as well. Whilst watching the movie, at a certain point after Holmes has sent Watson to investigate and we haven't seen Sherlock for a half hour, I was asking "what the fuck happened to Sherlock? He is barely in the movie!" Meanwhile, after watching Watson schmooze it up in the moor, he runs into this old bearded guy that has been hanging around the area and popping up each time shit has gone down and what not. Watson tells the guy he is Sherlock and that is why he has the authority to be snooping around or whatever when the bearded guy shockingly tears his beard and chops off and it is the real Sherlock who has been investigate shit the whole time. Didn't see that shit coming at all! Then there is the end of the movie after the mystery has been solved and what not. This comes when everyone awkwardly stands around like, "uh, thanks?" and Holmes kicks everyone out like, "yeah, I'm tired, goodnight, oh, and Watson, shoot me up." It was a serious WTF moment.

Somethings I was not so crazy about was that Sherlock shot the dog. Poor pup. Maybe it lived though. Also, the way Sherlock solves the crime is weak AF. Sees this Stapleton fellow, who was a distant relative of Baskerville, has the same eyes of some Baskerville ancestor that hangs in a painting in the estate home and would thus inherit family fortune if everyone else was out of the way. So he recognized a slight family trait. Meh. Other than that, pretty solid and enjoyable enough.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

True Romance is the greatest movie of all time


True Romance. Must have thought it was white boy day. My introduction to Quentin Tarantino. With Once Upon a Time In Hollywood coming out tomorrow I'm revisiting this magnificent flick that totally blew my little mind as a child. Tarantino through the eyes of Tony Scott, this movie is perfect. I've watched it 20 times since 1993 and pick up new details every single time. This, not one of Tarantino's 10, is for me, depending on the day, top three movies he's written. I really, really love this flick.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Fueled by Quentin Tarantino's savvy screenplay and a gallery of oddball performances, Tony Scott's True Romance is a funny and violent action jaunt in the best sense.

On days when Tarantino comes out with a new movie, that should be a national holiday. I've got too much shit over the next week and am going to have to sandwich seeing With Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (which sort of feels like a companion movie for TR, another industry movie that takes place in L.A.) in on a day I've got shit going down, work on Thursday/Friday, trivia on Thursday, 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen on Friday, my female companion is out doing shit all day on Saturday, volunteering on Sunday. If I had spaced out my time off better, I'd have taken the day off on Friday. As it stands now... Sorry, babe, Saturday is the day I'm seeing this. Don't worry though, I'll probably see it again.

Anyway, True Romance. Detroit comic book store guy Clarence Worley, played by Christian Slater, meets and marries a bubbly and adorable prostitute, Alabama Whitman played by Patricia Arquette. This leads to him murdering her pimp and stealing a shitload of cocaine which they try to sell to a filmmaker in Hollywood. However, the Mob and the police find out and shit goes down in what is more or less a Tarantino autobiographical wish fulfillment movie. The cast for this movie is incredible. Like holy shit. Appearances include James Gandolfini who is brilliant as this monster of Mob hit man in the first thing anyone had really ever seen him in, Dennis Hopper as Clarence's dad, Samuel L. Jackson as a random drug dealer killed by Alabama's pimp, Val Kilmer as Elvis (don't ask), Gary Oldman as drug dealer/pimp Drexl, Chris Penn and Tom Sizemore as cops, Bronson Pinchot (most known for his as Balki from the sitcom Perfect Strangers) plays a pivotal idiot who sets up the deal between Clarence and filmmaker Lee Donowitz played by Saul Rubinek, Brad Pitt as Floyd (easily my favorite character), Michael Rapaport as the friend in Hollywood, and Christopher Walken as the Mob boss.

Here's some interesting shit about Oldman's Drexl character who has the best lines in the movie. He gets to say that Clarence "must of thought it was white boy day" and "Y'know what we got here? Motherfuckin' Charlie Bronson." Dude based it on his personal drug dealer. Apparently Tony Scott told him he is a white dude who thinks he is black. Oldman was like, I've got it and rolled with it. This was according to interviews Scott did. Oldman, however, walked that back, saying he didn't have a drug dealer. This was a different time when smoking pot wasn't as socially acceptable. He said he based it off of kids in his neighborhood or some such shit. He really rolls with it when he sizes up Clarence, making a bunch of assumptions that Clarence then shoots to shit in one of the many unforgettable back and forths in the film. Shit is perfect. Most of this I learned from The Ringer who did a Rewatchable on the movie last year. If you like Bill Simmons, love that guy, and this movie, you have to check this out.

While Oldman is truly unforgettable, Brad Pitt's character Floyd, the stoner on the couch, has long been my favorite. Don't condescend him, man, he'll fucking kill you. He is the ultimate lazy stoner, my people. Dude is my spirit animal. For real.

Really hard to say who the MVP of the movie was. Maybe Arquette who was conceived as Tarantino's dream girl (and it shows as she is really cute and really cool) for her unbelievable performance, Scott for his vision in directing this slick sort of light film that we never get with Tarantino, or Tarantino for this masterful script that definitely is part of his interconnected universe. Ultimately, went with Tarantino, who planned on financing Reservoir Dogs with what he made off this script. See Tarantino gave Tony Scott both RD and True Romance to read to try to get made. Scott wanted to make RD but by the time Scott was ready to make one of the films, Tarantino had already set his mind on directing RD. Was using the $50,000 he got for the script to pay for RD but when Harvey Keitel read the script and agreed to star, Tarantino and producer Lawrence Bender were able to raise $1.5 million for the film. You can read more about it at Film School Rejects. Something else that is pretty cool is that Keitel's character, Mr. White, in RD which came out a year before TR, is asked by Joe Cabot, the older bald leader guy that looks like The Thing, about "Alabama." Mr. White tells him him that they haven't worked together for a year and a half. This was part of the Tarantino shared universe but Scott changed the ending of the script as Clarence was supposed to die with Bama apparently working on steeling jewels with Mr. White.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Southern Belles is the worst movie of all time


Southern Belles. Southern man don't need you around, anyhow. Companion watch to Gone with the Wind. Not a good movie. Funny as shit but not great. Good one-liners. Anna Faris is always a gem. But the flick was sort of hard to get through at times. Also, Rhett Butler. Fucking hate that guy. Like how he poaches wild turkeys because as a cop he is above the law. There is a reason you aren't supposed to hunt animals out of season, dickhead. Also, never a good idea to berate a chick you love or whatever for breaking your hear when she leaves town for like four hours or tell her "nope" when she proposes to you, whether it is a joke or not.

Thought the movie was going to be a comedic, modern retelling of Gone with the Wind. It is not. It is a film about a girl, Bell Granger played by one Laura Breckenridge whom I've not seen in anything else, who lives in a trailer park in shit town in Georgia and is obsessed with the 1939 movie and meets and falls in love with a cop named Rhett Butler (played by Justin Chambers from Grey's Anatomy which is apparently still on). Meanwhile, her and her BFF, Belle Scott, sometimes called "Other Belle", played by Anna Faris, save up to start fresh in Atlanta but have few opportunities to earn the $2,000 something duckets they need to make it in the big city. They "can't just show up in Atlanta with a suitcase of loose morals," as Faris's character says.

Her character has the best lines of the flick. Like calling the Civil War the "War of Northern Aggression" or when Bell Granger asks her if the cop Rhett Butler is married, she says "well, the ending is open ended." Also, her and her boss's interactions at the retail store, her boss is played by Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock, are pretty priceless. Like during the store's "Chanukah in August Sale", Faris pronounces it Hanukkah but Friedlander corrects her, pronouncing "Chanukah" phonetically. They constantly go at it and he always looks like an idiot. Like when a French woman comes into the store and asks for "food for my pussy" she at first is incredulous until her boss comes over. "I think she's crazy," Faris says. She prattles on and does some pantomiming before the boss says, "She's not crazy; she's French" and tells her "de nada". When Faris finally quits, for the second and final time, dude tells her that she can't quit because he loves her. Totally out of left field and completely insane. It is so outrageous that it is pretty funny.

Faris is great but isn't the MVP. That distinction goes to Fred Weller who you might recognize as the racist cop in BlacKkKlansman. He plays Bell Granger's ex boyfriend, Tracy Hampton, who is an utterly ridiculous human. Drives an IROC, is the worst boyfriend of all-time, tries to hang up a phone from across the kitchen by throwing it, and speaks in Skynyrd quotes. He had it all. He had a girl. A pretty cool friend. A car. All of it, he tells us. Yeah, he pretty much wins every time.

Gone With the Wind is the greatest movie of all time


Gone With the Wind. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Starting 1939 in my Greatest Years in Cinema Project with the behemoth. Seen cherry picked scenes all my life but never sat down from start to finish. That four hour runtime has always been a bit intimidating. After my first true watch, oh, it's dope. Groundbreaking and epic. Clark Gable (sort of reminds me of a George Clooney, who also reminds me of Cary Grant) as Rhett Butler is really fucking good. So are Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Wilkes nee Hamilton, Leslie Howard (sort of a 1930s Michael Fassbender) as Ashley Wilkes, Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara, and Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. But I'm not sure it really says anything. Slavery. Meh. Rape. Eh. The South. Take it or leave it. The overwhelming thing I walked away with is that Scarlett is a bitch who will apparently never go hungry again.

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Filmed and presented on a scale not seen in modern productions, Gone with the Wind is, if not the definitive Hollywood film, then certainly near the top of the list.

Unsure of how to describe the movie. The first half is a Civil War flick while the second is one dealing with Reconstruction. All the while plantation heiress and Kim Kardashian prototype Scarlett O'Hara, whom I'm pretty sure was called a "whorlet"which I am totally going to use, pursues one Ashley Wilkes who marries his cousin Melanie but marries a couple of fucking losers who can't even stay alive and rich badass Rhett Butler who rapes her and she eventually comes to love only to have him leave, telling her he doesn't give a shit about her no mo.

Now for some of the bullet points...

Some of the most impressive feats of the film come in the first half of the flick, before the intermission. First we get this scene right after the war breaks out where everyone gathers in town to hear which of their sons and husbands have died. It is super heavy with old folks sort of losing their shit and little kids crying. After it is over, the band, mostly children, standing with their instruments at attention, play "Dixie", most of them crying. By the by, based on this one scene I am convinced the movie is supposed to be ironic. Then we have the big dance that was a fundraiser for the war efforts that is decadent and awesome. The truly moving scene where Scarlett goes to find the doctor to help Melanie who is in labor and she crosses a street with thousands of wounded soldiers lying there dying and hopeless. Then the burning of Atlanta which is incredible by any standard. The second part, the sequel, I guess, sort of drug and was mostly a bunch of preachy talking. Like the Old vs. New Testament. There's some sacrilege for ya.

Early in the movie, after Ashley tells Scarlett he is into incest at this big Confederacy pro-war meeting of the minds (of note, while the dudes have wargasms all over the place down stairs, the ladies nap with slaves fanning them, of course not batting an eye at having human air conditioners), she goes off and marries some dipshit who practically creams his pants at the prospect of war (and he basically calls Butler a pussy), and breaks up his relationship, I think,  just to make the dude she really likes jealous. He immediately dies in the war of pneumonia, which he was fucking really into, and she doesn't give a shit and is more upset that she is too young to be a widow than anything else and decides to try to break up that other guy's marriage. When she is "in morning" it is sort of like in Seinfeld when Susan dies from glue poisoning from licking their wedding invitations and the doctor tells him and he realizes that he doesn't have to marry her, because, you know, she's dead, and he has a look that the guy later describes on the stand during "The Finale" as "restrained jubilation." That is what we get in Atlanta. She is pissed and sad but she is only pissed that she has to pretend to be upset and sad that she is too young to be a widow. And that is the first half hour of the movie. She only becomes more of a bitch as the movie goes on and she becomes wealthier (going from the use of one type of slave labor to another first having the traditional black slaves and then hiring the prison for the newer kind of slave labor that we still have today) and more "independent" which is bullshit. Rhett dodged a fucking bullet. I'll tell ya.

But Rhett, he fucking sucks, too. Early I thought he might be alright as he is (toxically) manly and dashing and what not. It doesn't seem like he has slaves but I may have missed something. And he and Ashley (want to reiterate that he is marrying his cousin, Melanie, who is lovely and the only main white character who isn't terrible, but yeah, your marrying your cousin is fucking gross by today's standards but was socially acceptable then, I guess) are the only two Southerners who are fucking stoked about the War of Northern Aggression. Says "All we've got is cotton, slaves, and arrogance." Pretty cool. And he says "damn". But there towards the end, dude loses us. First he helps cover up what sort of sounds like a lynching that Ashley and Scarlett's second husband, who died there, partake in. This was in retaliation for a deranged attempted rape from a pair of morons in a shanty town. Rhett says Ashley, the doctor, and him were all hanging out at the brothel (also, I feel a Civil War era prostitute would be really disgusting which this one that keeps showing up is not). It is an obvious lie but he is so convincing, I guess, that the local doctor's wife thought they were really at the whore house even though she knew they were going to kill the folks in this shanty town. Supposed to think he is just that smooth but really it just makes the doctor's wife look like an idiot. Once he and Scarlett finally get married and she gets caught throwing herself at Ashley by the sister whose dude she keeps stealing, he gets drunk and rapes her. Not cool, man. I already hate him at that point but then he goes a step further to lose me when after his and Scarlett's idiot child rides off on a pony that she forces to try to jump a fence but instead throws her into it and dies, he fucking shoots the pony. What the hell, dude?

The real Gable, whom was the MVP of the movie, was sort of an enigma like this as well. Like how he was really cool and progressive when it came to the treatment of African Americans, but not so much with homosexuals. Like whilst shooting the movie, legendary producer David O. Selznick’s set had segregated bathrooms which pissed Gable off. He went to friend and director Victor Fleming, who was chosen by Selznick to direct in part to appease Gable, and threatened to walk if that shit didn't stop which it did. Then when Hattie McDaniel, whom he was friends with prior to working with her on the film, wasn't allowed to attend the premier in Atlanta, GA, he flipped and shit and threatened to boycott. Same with the Academy Awards, where McDaniel fucking won (the first black actor to win an Oscar) for Best Supporting, when she had to sit in the back of the audience. So, yeah, as cool as you could be, racially speaking, when you are most known for starring in a deeply racist movie.

Politically he was extremely conservative though he voted for FDR when he was married to Carol Lombard, a liberal democrat. Like how with Gary Cooper, the future president who prior to Trump fucked up the country more than any other in the modern era Ronald Reagan, and draft dodging "man's man" John Wayne he formed the pro-McCarthy bullshit Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. I guess you could be a winger and a Republican and not be a racist back then. Meanwhile, according to David Bret in his book Clark Gable: Tormented Star, dude spent his early years in Hollywood as a sort of gigolo among the homosexuals in Hollywood's elite, "gay for pay," if you will. All of this was probably horseshit but he was known to go on a homophobic rant in his day, t'were the times, I guess. Also, hearsay rumors to this day, the professor of this "1939: The Greatest Year in Hollywood" class I audited earlier this year said this was most likely true, persist that Gable wasn't comfortable with original Gone with the Wind director George Cukor who was openly gay and had him fired. This was likely because of his whole machismo bullshit. How much of this was because of Gable and how much because Selznick and Cukor constantly argued about details, Selznick was famously hard to work for and saw this as his baby. Some had it that Cukor knew of Gable's homosexual hustling, he probably did sort of hustle single older rich woman though, and that is part of why Gable didn't want to work with him. You can read about the book in this review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review since it doesn't appear the book is really worth your time.

Overall, Gable was a pretty interesting guy. Was married to Academy Award nominated actress Carole Lombard who dead in a plane crash in 1941. She was selling war bonds in her and my home state of Indiana. Traveling with her were Lombard's mother and Gable's press agent who were both afraid of flying. Lombard, however, wanted to get back to Los Angeles as quickly as possible because, it is rumored, he was going to be working with supposed sexpot Lana Turner in the movie Somewhere I'll Find You. The mother and publicist left the decision up to chance whether they would would head back by train or fly, flipping a coin at Lombard's suggestion. She won and the group, along with 19 others, mostly soldiers, died when the plane crashed into a mountain outside of Las Vegas due to visibility issues caused by the fact that it was practice at the time for turn off safety beacons at night so that Japanese bomber couldn't navigate the terrain. Fucked. A month later, after a legendary bender, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corp and made propaganda films for the war effort even though he was 41 when America joined the war, put him past the age where he would have been drafted or indeed been able to enlist in today's military. He worked his way up from private to major and even "won his wings" as an aerial gunner flying in five real war missions one in which his plane was damaged in combat. You read more about it at this seemingly nonpartisan military information site Defense Media Network.

Finally, there is Melanie, played by Olivia de Havilland who as of this post is still alive and kicking at 103. Poor, sweet, dumb Melanie. From her perspective Scarlett is the kindest most generous friend anyone could ever have. Everyone else except the dudes she marries minus Butler fucking knows Scarlett is the fucking worst, but to Melanie, Scarlett is the woman who looked after her while Ashley was away at war, delivered her child, supported her financially for a time, and saved her life by shooting a Union soldier in the face in one of the movie's most shocking scenes. But in the end she dies of bullshit as she has been exposed to it all her life.

So that was Gone with the Wind. Great and epic, for sure. Racist and irritating as well. Don't think I'll be watching again anytime soon but I'm glad I finally sat down and watched it from start to finish. Totally deserves being high on the American Film Institute Top 100 list and is a huge part of why 1939 is maybe the greatest year in film of all-time. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Dead Don't Die is the greatest movie of all time


The Dead Don't Die. So. Crazy Jim Jarmusch fan. Dead Man and Ghostdog are two of my faves. Wrote about both of those films in college for this dope religion in film class which was probably my favorite class in undergrad. Expanded my paper on Dead Man in grad school. Whenever he comes out with a movie, I am totally watching the shit out of that movie. This one, though, was not one of my faves. Still a REALLY solid flick, just not as enjoyable for me as I would have liked. Oh well. Can't all be winners I guess.

Rotten Tomatos Consensus: The Dead Don't Die dabbles with tones and themes to varying degrees of success, but sharp wit and a strong cast make this a zom-com with enough brains to consume.

Was crazy excited about this flick which is a pretty standard zombie comedy/horror production but with a phenomenal cast. Gist is that the earth has been thrown off it's axis because of polar fracking which has fucked with the way the earth rotates. This caused, spoiler, aliens to become interested in our planet and either they or the fracking somehow causes the dead to rise again. We follow the inhabitants of a small town going to shit because of, you know, the zombie attacks and what have you. The movie stars Adam Driver from BlacKkKlansman and the newer Star Wars movies, Bill Murray, and alum Chloë Sevigny from Kids and Zodiac and Jarmusch flick Broken Flowers with Murray and a bunch of other flicks that are dope, as the police officers trying to keep the town's folks alive, Steve Buscemi as a right-wing asshole, Austin Butler whom I've never seen but was tapped to play "The King" in an upcoming bio-flick, Danny Glover, pop star Selena Gomez, Carol Kane from Scrooged and Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, Caleb Landry Jones who is so hot right now (he was the brother in Get Out and the kid who gets his ass kicked in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Rosie Perez from Pineapple Express and White Men Can't Jump, punk rocker Iggy Pop, Wu-Tang founder turned actor RZA, Tilda Swinton of Narnia fame who was also the Ancient One in various Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and raspy, baritone singer Tom Waits. Almost all of these actors, except the younger ones, have popped up in Jarmusch's work before.

Polarizing film for me. Sometimes great. Sometimes hated it. A lot of fourth wall breaking which also polarized me. The times I liked it were with the Sturgill Simpson song "The Dead Don't Die" and Adam Driver talking about reading the script and knowing what happens to them late in the movie. With Simpson's song, Murray talks about it sounding familiar and Driver tells him because that is the theme of the movie. Should have left it at those two as the other times it was deployed I was sort of like, "okay, this was funny." A little too cute with it, I guess.

Overall the cast was great and sometimes it was extremely funny. It was an enjoyable watch but low on my list of favorite Jarmusch films, but I still think he is dope and will watch every one of his flicks. Think that the ending, which, spoiler, involves aliens, sort of put a bad taste in my mouth. Probably not going to rewatch it every couple of years like I do with several other of his flicks but I will watch it again. Feel it was worthy of a second look. May feel different about it then, ya know. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Us is the greatest movie of all time


Us. If you wanna get crazy, we can get crazy. Great use of "I Got 5 on It" which takes me and the characters back to the mid-90s. Really loved it. But it ain't no Get Out. Academy Award Nominee this will never be, even in this year of complete shit.  Feel like director Jordan Peele has the potential to be hated for the same reasons that M. Night Shyhamalan is hated. Mainly the twist stuff. That seems unlikely, at least IMO. Good sophomore movie though.

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: With Jordan Peele's second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us.

Gist of the movie is that Adelaide played by Lupita Nyong'o (she was female lead in Black Panther) runs into her doppelganger whilst vacationing at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk (the same one where they filmed The Lost Boys) right around the time of the Hands Across America event in 1986 where people all over America formed a human chain, holding hands from coast to coast (that didn't quite work but it was indeed a shit ton of people holding hands for something [to fight hunger and homelessness] that was soon forgotten). This, apparently, you know, fucks her up. Cut to 30 something years later and see she has married one Gabe Wilson played by Winston Duke and birthed two kids, Zora played by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Jason (Evan Alex). The group goes on vacation to their fly-ass home near the beach hanging out with a couple, played by Tim Heidecker from Tim and Eric Awesome Show and unfortunate Scientologist Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men and The Handmaid's Tale fame, and their twin daughters. One evening they are visited by their clones--the clones are "tethered" in a way where their actions on the surface were mirrored by the doppelgangers underground--who we find want to coexist peacefully. JK. They want to murder them and then perform their own Hands Across America.

A lot of the clone stuff is unexplained which I liked. Don't like how they sustained themselves whilst down there. Slaughtering rabbits and what not. My clone wouldn't do that (another JK). They say they were cloned by the government or something but it isn't really the focus. Just that they are there, trying to take over. What their endgame is though is also sort of mystery. The Doppelganger Hands Across Clonemerica is a great first day, I guess, but what are you gonna do after that? Like a guy whose retirement plan is to sip margaritas on a beach somewhere, these guys need to start thinking long-term.

The movie is a pretty effective social commentary. On one hand, preaching to the choir. On the other, I think we need as much of this shit as possible during this Trump era of bullshit. Peele, for his part explained it thus to The A.V. Club :
"One of the central themes in Us is that we can do a good job collectively of ignoring the ramifications of privilege. I think it's the idea that what we feel like we deserve comes, you know, at the expense of someone else's freedom or joy. You know, the biggest disservice we can do as a faction with a collective privilege like the United States is to presume that we deserve it, and that it isn't luck that has us born where we're born. For us to have our privilege, someone suffers. That's where the Tethered connection, I think, resonates the most, is that those who suffer and those who prosper are two sides of the same coin. You can never forget that. We need to fight for the less fortunate."
Peele sees our pleasure as someone else's pain in a way that is hard to disagree with. Basically everything we buy comes at the cost of someone's suffering, which is fucked and at times debilitating, at least for me.

Anyway, the hands down MVP of the movie is Winston Duke whom you may remember from his part as M'Baku from Black Panther. I'd say the dude was meant to be an upper middle class guy throwing out dad jokes for 90 minutes, as he did in this movie, if he wasn't so great in BP. Also, have a soft spot for my vegetarian, former college football playing brethren. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Brightburn is the worst movie of all time



Brightburn. Take the world. What if Superman was evil? This movie asks that question. Lame. Fucking hated it. Like any child hitting puberty, this kid turns into a dick. What happens when a little shit discovers he has superpowers is he rages out and kills everyone with his godlike power. He does this because fuck it, that's why. 

Gist of this piece is this little kid discovers he has superpowers and decides to stop taking shit from adults, instead just straight up murdering them. Movie stars Elizabeth Banks who is lovely and wins the movie and David Denman who was Pam's first dude in The Office as the parents, Jackson A. Dunn who is the super kid, and Meredith Hagner and Matt Jones (Badger in Breaking Bad) who play his aunt and uncle. The Jones character's death is fucked as he jaw comes off in a real and sick way.

The movie is super uncomfortable. Not only is this kid killing the shit out people for slight perceived offenses, he is also becoming interested in girls. I was scared he was going to start raping little girls to death and such but they spare us this, thank fuck. But in the movie this would kind of make sense since when he breaks bad he gives no more shits.

Doesn't seem to be any way to take this kid down in this universe either. They have Cryptonite, or whatever, that Banks tries to kill him with. But no one is ever going to figure that shit out since it is hidden under the barn and what not. In the end we see him blowing up buildings and just being a super, flying dick. This begs the question, how long before we take something like this down with like a nuke or something. He isn't the only Justice League type hero out there fucking shit up either. We learn this in a nice little cameo tirade from the actor Michael Rooker who is some right-wing conspiracy TV guy like Alex Jones. This was about the only thing, besides Banks, I liked in the movie. In this scene we learn there is a "half-man/half-sea creature capsizing fishing vessels in the South China Sea" and "some kind of witch-woman who chokes people out with ropes." So basically Aquaman and Wonder Woman.

Anywho, we don't really see if the kid is the last of his kind like Superman but I would assume not. They make a big deal of him being like a parasitic wasp raised by bees in a hive that the wasp infiltrates and takes over. So, yeah, this kid's "parents" eventually, once they figure out they fucked up, both try to kill him, so like the wasp in this metaphor, he decimates those that raise him. You really feel for Banks as she is making a huge sacrifice in trying to kill this kid that she loved. This is why she wins the movie. Just like a real child though, he don't care, and takes her up to 30,000 feet and drops her. Bloop. He then immediately takes down a plane that is approaching, killing another couple hundred people. Lame and depressing, this ending. The news and shit picks this up and treats the kid as a victim which doesn't make any sense as the cops were there investigating him for murder and shit and called dispatch saying shit was going down after which they just disappear. Whatever.

Revenge is the greatest movie of all time


Revenge. Do you like rape revenge movies? Of course not. Usually too into the rape, if you know what I mean, or turn the victim into a psychopath. Examples of the former would be I Spit on Your Grave or Last House on the Left or Eye for an Eye, while examples of the latter would be Ms. 45 or Teeth. This movie, however, is one of those rare flicks that does it right, movies that are becoming more common as we become more woke to such things. Some examples of these movies would be American Mary and Bound to Vengeance. This one does it perfectly. We get enough of the shit to not only hate the rapist, but also get a glimpse at the dude's bros, the worst of whom isn't even the rapist, who enable rapists, the culture, and are violent against women. All that stuff goes down pretty quickly (the rape happens, it's terrible, it's effects are lasting but we don't have to sit there and watch it for half an hour) and we get right into her fighting for her survival in an extremely satisfying way in this gem of a revenge movie. Greatest movie of all time.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Revenge slices and dices genre tropes, working within an exploitation framework while adding a timely -- yet never less than viscerally thrilling -- feminist spin.

Pros: Sick cinematography. Great use of landscape and color. So. Much. Blood. Like an unreal amount.

Cons: While it's not Funny Games or anything, it still features a lot of uncomfortable violence against a woman.

Gist of the movie is trio of rich as fuck friends convene on a remote island somewhere for their annual hunting trip. One of them, Richard played by Kevin Janssens (good time to point out that all of these actors are pretty much unknowns), brings his young mistress along, one Jen played by Matilda Lutz (she was the lead in the film Rings which is still on my to watch list). They get along for a day, drinking, flirting, dancing, and doing drugs, but Richard's buddy Stan (Vincent Colombe) thinks that Jen was coming on to him and tries to have sex with her. When she refuses, he brutally rapes her. She cries for help within earshot of the third friend on the trip, Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède), turns up the volume on the TV before going outside for a dip in the pool. When Richard comes back, Jen tells him. When he barely gives a shit, saying she wants to leave and what not, and that if she can't, she will tell his wife, he beats her. Next thing everyone knows, she is out the door, sprinting for her life. Once she gets to the edge of a cliff, they push her off. Through grit, she survives and the dudes set out to find her and finish the job, only Jen is tough as fuck and hell bent on getting her mother fucking revenge!

Hard to call a movie with a brutal rape and so much violence beautiful but this is. Vividly colorful, the movie is a feast of natural beauty. It is also a very satisfying movie as these three are some of the most easily hateable characters of all time. Spoiler, there are three kills total and all of them are fucking great. She gets hers.

This Kevin Janssens guy wins the movie. Dude was a pretty convincing psychopath. Sort of reminded me of Aaron Eckhart. Totally an alpha male type who treats everyone, including his mates, like complete shit. Spoiler, there is this super intense scene when they are back at the house and it is just him and Jen left alive at this point. He is naked running around the house hunting her like a mad man. Think American Psycho except more deranged. Making it even fucking crazier is when she shoots him and then she is hunting him. But he seran wraps his guts in and the two of them are chasing each other around in circles for a crazy long time, each with the intent of killing the other. When she slips and falls and he finally catches her and knocks her out. He begins to choke her out and you think she is done but reaches in through the plastic wrap and pulls some of his guts out at which point she shoots him point blank in the chest with a hunting shotgun. There is so much blood in this house it is fucking unbelievable. And so ends this amazingly beautiful rape/revenge fantasy (or whatever you want to call it).

The debut film of one Coralie Fargeat. This lady is going places. The movie is one of my favorite horror, since it's on Shudder I'mma call it that, movies of last year. Get a lot of use out of that subscription. That and Mandy were Shudder exclusives. Two great, trippy films. Shudder has so much good content. This was one of the best. Can't wait for Fargeat to make more flicks. Check this one out. Loved it.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Housebound is the greatest movie of all time


Housebound. New Zealand picture. Lots of crossover with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings actors. Horror then comedy (easily my favorite genre) that works on both levels. There aren't many movies more in my wheelhouse. Of course I love the shit out of this movie. Has a shockingly high RT Fresh score of 98% though it is so well done that I couldn't imagine it being a dud or anything. Also, I find the main character, Morgana O'Reilly as Kylie Bucknell, to be crazy attractive which is always a plus. She also wins the movie.

Rotten Tomatos Consensus: Alternately hilarious, gross, and simply diverting, Housebound is the rare horror-comedy that delivers on both fronts.

Part People Under the Stairs. Part Rear Window. Movie follows a woman sentenced to house arrest with her parents, whom she estranged, in what appears to be more and more like a legit haunted house. A lot of the fun comes from the mother and daughter being so estranged and her being forced back into her childhood home. Only actor I've ever seen is Rima Te Wiata, who plays the mom, Miriam Bucknell. She was in a Taika Waititi, the guy who did What We Do In The Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok, that guy is seriously great, called Hunt for the Wilderpeople that is a really sweet film. Other than that it is all that guys from LOTRs and Xena. Released at South by Southwest, directed by one Gerard Johnstone, this is his only film, still. That is a travesty. Get this guy money to make another movie for god's sake.

Anyway, There are like three times you think you know what is going on in this flick but everything completely turns, keeping you on your toes. At first everything seems supernatural as Kylie discovers that the house used to be a mental institution where a brutal murder took place just a few years before. Then it seems certain that a neighbor is responsible. Then about five other things go down where you don't know who is causing all the shit or what is about to happen.

There are a couple of terrifying scene in there. Like when Kylie comes face to face with what is going bump in the night for the first time, that shit is fucked up. There is also this scene where Kylie wakes up and this Teddy Ruxpin type thing with a voice box that you can record on which is malfunctioning, making it sound demonic, shows up suddenly one night, talk shit. Kylie is like, "what the fuck did you say to me?" Then the bear starts in with that slow, terrifying, mechanical voice and she punches it in the face, "stop tickling me," it says, as it goes into the fire. The next day, whilst taking a shower, the same bear, mostly burned and way more terrifying, suddenly shows up in the shower with her, speaking garbled nonsense. Totally a WTF moment. To make things worse, as a former addict, everyone thinks she is crazy. Not a good position to be in.

Great flick that has the viewer all over the place in a way that is totally realistic and makes sense in the movie. Not one of those twists for no reason movies. In this you just slowly get more info as time goes on, shedding more light on the last revelation. I love a movie that makes you ask a lot of question but all the shit gets answered and comes together in the end. This is one of those rare satisfying movies.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Greatest Years In Cinema Project: The Films


These are the movies I'm going to be watching for Hollywood's greatest years. Five years. Ten movies from each year. A few extras by request. Look forward to these in the coming months.

Some notes on the lists. I made sure to have the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, a comedy, a horror movie, a kids(ish) movie, and a sports movie. If a big name director had a movie that year, I included it even if it wasn't a great flick (Bringing Out the Dead [Martin Scorsese] and Death Proof  [Quinton Tarantino] for example). There are several notable exceptions to this rule (Ghost Dog [Jim Jarmusch] and The Straight Story [David Lynch] in 1999). Otherwise, just picked better films from that year I want to watch and write about.

1939

Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, The Arsenal Stadium Mystery, The Cat and the Canary, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Roaring Twenties, The Wizard of Oz, and Young Mr. Lincoln 

Missing the cut: Dark Victory, Golden Boy, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Gunga Din, Of Mice and Men, Son of Frankenstein, The Women, and Wuthering Heights

1976

All the Presidents Men, Assault on Precinct 13, Carrie, Logan's Run, Marathon Man, Network, Rocky, Silver Streak, Taxi Driver, and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane

Missing the cut: Alice, Sweet Alice, Bad News Bears, Silent MovieThe Omen, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and The Tenant 

1994

Above the Rim, Cemetery Man, Forest Gump, In the Mouth of Madness, Interview with the Vampire, Leon: The Professional, Pulp Fiction, Reality Bites, Speed, and The Shawshank Redemption

Bonus by request: Beverly Hills Cop III and possibly The Santa Clause

Missing the cut: Blue Chips, Clerks, Ed Wood, Hoop Dreams, and True Lies

1999

American Beauty, Any Given Sunday, Bringing Out the Dead, Election, Fight Club, Go, Office Space, The Blair Witch Project, Three Kings, and Toy Story 2

Bonus by Request: Deep Blue Sea

Missing the cut: Being John MalkovichGalaxy QuestGhost Dog, Magnolia, Man on the MoonSleepy Hollow, The Green MileThe InsiderThe Iron GiantThe MatrixThe Sixth SenseThe Talented Mr. RipleyThe Thomas Crown AffairThe Virgin Suicides, and Varsity Blues

2007

Death Proof, Hot Fuzz, Juno, No Country For Old Men, Ratatouille, Superbad, Talladega Nights, The Assassination of Jesse James, There Will Be Blood, and Zodiac

Missing the cut: 3:10 to YumaAtonement, Distubia, Eastern Promises, Gone Baby GoneKnocked Up, I'm Not There, Into the WildMr. Brooks, and The Simpsons Movie

Also, may end up revisiting some of those flicks in years with a bunch of films that didn't quite make the cut. Just gonna focus on these for now though. But feel free to make suggestions. Thanks for everyone that suggested a film.