Teorema (1968); NO—If you told me Pasolini made this film with the sole purpose of getting star Terence Stamp in the sack, I’d believe you. Tame and meandering, the flick is a bit of a snooze, mainly because it’s so quaint.
The Message (1976); NO, but a fascinating film for trying to portray the rise of the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessing of God be upon him) by the strict guidelines of Islam. That is, without showing him at all! And if you’re not completely narrow-minded, you watch the film and realize, “Oh wow, just like Christians and Jews have their boring holiday movie epics, the Muslims have theirs, too.” See? We can all get along! A much better flick is director (and former Sam Peckinpah protégé) Mustapha Akkad’s later film Lion of the Desert—worth catching not only for its incredible battle scenes and one of Oliver Reed’s more subtler performances, but for its definite skew towards revolutionary Third World politics: Throw the Imperialist Colonizers into the sea! Lion of the Desert would be a good double feature with Gillo Pontecorvo’s Burn!
Mail Order Wife (2005); YES—from Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko, the team that also unleashed The Last Exorcism and The Virginity Hit. These guys are taking the fake documentary sub-genre (I don’t like the term “mockumentary”) and going someplace unique with it. I’ve enjoyed all three of their films, and really like the mindgames they spring. Full disclosure: I’m in the Gurland-produced/Botko-cinematographed documentary on Al Goldstein, Screwed (1997).
Path to War (2003); YES; I’m working my way through all of John Frankenheimer’s films, and this docudrama about LBJ going into Vietnam is pretty good, considering that it looks like Frankenheimer wasn’t given much of a budget. I loved Gary Sinise’s cameo/return as George Wallace, though.
Drunken Wutang (1984); YES; so this is the madness that inspired the band? Now I get it.
Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days (1989); YES; the nicest man in the world takes a trip around the place he's the nicest.
Manon (1949); YES—because even when I don’t like a Henri-Georges Clouzot film, like Diabolique, it is always worth watching, and I liked Manon: it’s a high-energy l’amour fou death-trip from the get-go, about an amoral sexpot and a hot-headed, love-stricken ex-Resistance fighter—I often wondered while watching the movie whether director Clouzot is actually laughing at these doomed lovebirds? (Or at least snickering?) Which also wouldn’t surprise me since some of Clouzot’s other flicks (like Le Corbeau or The Wages of Fear) are not exactly upbeat— No wonder Hitchcock was a fan! And Manon is a flick that could NOT have been made in the US at the time: the lead’s stint in a bordello would not have been allowed.
The Beatniks (1960); NO—what the hell was Paul Frees thinking?!? Inept garbage written and directed by the God of the Voice-Overs—so bad it has to be seen to be believed…but you’ll be sorry—just like me. And the title is a lie—there are NO beatniks in this flick.
The Cell (2000); NO, although I did like the art direction and Vinnie DeeOh’s perf.
Rubber’s Lover (1996); NO, HELL NO: Annoying Tetsuo/cyberpunk noise. Maybe I missed something in the translation...
8 Mile (2002); YES—a hip-hop Rocky with Eminem playing himself: go Rabbit!
A Place in the Sun (1951); YES, yes, a thousand times YES! (And so, my George Stevens kick begins…)
Come Drink With Me (1966); YES, good old school Run Run Shaw sword fu—lots of fun.
Cube (1997); YES—although it honestly feels like a longer, missing episode of The Outer Limits, not that that’s a bad thing! And Nicole DeBoeris SO cute!
Breaking Bad: Season One (2008); YES—this show is the closest thing to a Donald Westlakenovel on television; the show’s set-up (milquetoast genius chemistry teacher uses his mad skills to become a meth kingpin) is the missing third part to the themes started in his novels The Axe—made into a great film by Costa-Gavras in 2005—and The Hook. I’m only halfway through the second season as I write this, and the terms “Westlakian” or “Westlake-like” (“Westlike”?) keep coming to mind. Great stuff.
Bad Biology (2008); YES; Frank Henenlotter ALWAYS delivers.
Alternative Three (1977); YES—excellent combo of a fake documentary and Gerry Anderson’s UFO—perfect double-feature with Craig Baldwin’s Tribulation 99, or Apollo 18; watch it HERE
Futurama: Volume 6 (2011) YES
Fight for Your Life (1977); YES—especially for unrepentant exploitation/grindhouse/white trash insanity.
Breaking Bad: Season Two (2009); YES
The Diary of Anne Frank (1959); NO—George Stevens makes an Otto Preminger film, and not one of the good ones.
Exodus (2007); YES—Definitely NOT the Otto Preminger flick— If William “women are an alien species” Burroughs and Roman Polanski were hired to rewrite an Ed McBain book and set it in Shanghai, this would be it.
Shane (1952); YES—’cause it’s a CLASSIC! Seen before, but watched and enjoyed again as part of my George Stevens kick…I may skip Giant, though…
These Are the Damned (1960); YES—at first the flick seems all over the place, but then it comes together in a heartbreaking way, and I swear, I keep thinking about this movie long after I’ve seen it. This is the type of morally questioning/thought-provoking science fiction that’s so hard to come by—really worth a look— Meanwhile Oliver Reed is deliciously feral as a vicious Teddy Boy with very incestuous feelings for his trampy sis— Great soundtrack, too! One of the best seen in 2011!
Apollo 18 (2011); YES—what’s with all the hating? Sure, if I had had to pay real money to see it, I would’ve been annoyed by the film’s slow middle—but as a renter, this flick is great fun—like an Outer Limits episode, or a weird spin-off TV movie from a Gerry Anderson TV show. I make no apologies for my enjoyment of genre flicks that use the “found footage/fake documentary” trick— I even consider it a horror subgenre unto itself—and as the contemporary equivalent of the epistolary horror story, the diary or letters of a doomed man being swallowed by supernatural forces. As such, I enjoyed Apollo 18’s combination of surveillance footage, electronic monitors, 16mm, 8mm and stock footage—all of it documenting a mission that was “doomed” from the get-go. It doesn’t always make sense, but the flick is tense and weird on a low-budget, and I think its monsters were great: And I don’t care if this is a spoiler, because it was my knowing that these unfortunate astronauts were going to run into MOON-CRAB-SPIDERS that made me want to see Apollo 18 even more. Nasty silicon-based life forms that look like rocks when standing still—but when disturbed, they’re wretched and evil MOON-CRAB-SPIDERS that move really fast! Fun stuff all around. (Hey, maybe the MOON-CRAB-SPIDERS are the watchdogs of the Selenites from The First Men in the Moon?)
Super (2010); YES—Excellent! Superheroes are psychopaths. This is the movie that both Kick-Assand Watchmen wanted to be, and then goes beyond that. In this case, a man interprets his psychotic breakdown as a religious experience that tells him to be a superhero. A moving modern fairy tale that effectively mixes gore, sick humor and pathos—there’s a happy ending, but you have to earn it. While I didn’t love director James Gunn’s previous flick Slither, it has a HUGE cult following, and Super deserves the same. Gunn keeps getting better with each film, and it’s fun as a movie fan to find someone whose work is routinely interesting, growing and changing. This film is also the first time I have ever really liked the actors Riann Wilson or Ellen Page: I thought they did great jobs playing flawed, weird kind-of real people. Yeah, this is one of my favorites of the year.
Cobra (1986); NO—Stallone can’t write or act comedy, he shouldn’t even try.
Breaking Bad: Season Three (2010); YES; the first season was Westlakeian like The Ax; the second season was Westakeian like Dortmunder; the third season is starting to get like Richard Stark’s Parker—and I think that is great. Go Team Heisenberg!
Shorts—they’re shorts, so just fuckin’ watch them, okay?
That was my original idea for the title of this blog, a sort of summation of nearly everything I'd ever wanted cinematically: regularly playing on the ABC Channel 7 4:30 movie--or on WOR-TV Channel 9's 4 O'Clock Movie--the greatest monster movie in the universe, and incredible combo of miniatures, men in suits and stop motion, with entire continents destroyed!
But then there was a coup d'etat, and Tzar Ivan I of Ivanlandia took charge.