Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Punishment Park" and Friends; Or: What I’ve Been Watching Lately

MST3K: The Beatniks (1992) Joel and the bots rip apart Paul Frees’ awful The Beatniks, turning it into something better than it was.
Seen via Netflix Streaming.

The Big Boss (1971; Wei Lo); YES, but only the scenes of Bruce Lee exhibiting his mad martial arts skillz. The rest? FF through.
Seen via Netflix Streaming.

Perversion Story (a.k.a. One on Top of the Other) (1969; Lucio Fulci) MAYBE
Lucio Fulci is an acquired taste, one that requires viewers to willingly put logic on hold and leap into Fulci’s patented fever dreams. And honestly, his films tend to be really depressing, too.
Loved this flick’s split-screen work, though.

Bored to Death Season One (2009) Well it was certainly amusing enough, but after watching the first four episodes, I didn’t feel the need to watch further. And I cannot stand sitcoms where the protagonists have no visible means of support.

Detective Story (2007; Takeshi Miike); NO! Miike enters the Post-Modern Serial Killer Genre Movie Sweepstakes (see Seven and Silence of the Lambs)….and loses.

Punishment Park (1971; Peter Watkins) YES!
In light of the massive militarization of local police departments; the civil- and human-rights abuses of Guantanamo Bay; the PATRIOT Act; the demonization of the Left; the scapegoating of those who disagree politically; the narrowing of the American mind; the extreme polarization of political discourse; and all the other myriad abuses of power done in the name of “National Security,” the fact is, as far as I’m concerned,
Punishment Park makes more sense than ever.

Directed by Peter Watkins (his best film, IMHO), this agitprop fake documentary follows a group of convicted political dissidents as they try and cross 50 miles of desert while being chased by cops and troopers.
Brutal and intense, Punishment Park is the epitome of “Savage Cinema” (and would make a great double-feature with the similarly-themed Battle Royale).

Melvin Goes to Dinner (2003; Bob Odenkirk) Maybe—for Bob Odenkirk fans only, I’d say.
Seen via Netflix Streaming.

Breaking Bad Season Four (2011) YES!

Mars (2010; Geoff Marslett) NO: The animation was interesting, but I couldn’t finish watching Mars—the humor was dreadful, below sophomoric: hipster, snark-cool lameness. Ugh.
Seen via Netflix Streaming.

Machine Gun McCain (1969; Giuliano Montaldo) This flick is almost awful, but saved by energetic perfs by John Cassavettes, Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands, as well as some decent violence and mayhem.
But this flick’s ultimate saving grace is the copious location shooting in Las Vegas and San Francisco: this movie was a wonderful travelogue of two cities that have been changed so much that their 1969 versions wouldn’t recognize the 2012 versions.
Seen via Netflix Streaming.


  1. Yeah, I dig a lot of Fulci's films, and I thought "Perversion Story" looked great. It was super 'groovy' with hot naked chicks, etc. His material is almost always hackneyed, but his execution is usually so hysterical that the films gleefully wallow in their own exploitative juices, which is what makes him, ahem, (almost) an auteur. Real sorry I had to miss the 92 Y Tribeca screening of his "House by the Cemetery" (in 35mm) a few weeks ago. Bruce Lee had such amazing screen presence, but you pretty much nailed it about "The Big Boss." Nice to see it widescreen on Netflix. The English dubbing actually fits that movie fine. And it does have violence, a sleazy tone and some pretty girls to boot. I always found MS3K really annoying and unfunny. Guess I'm just a b-movie scrooge or something. Oh, and you nailed it again with "Machine Gun McCain." The performances and locations were compelling, but the story was lost in between. I see "The Hard Ride" is now streaming on Netflix. How does that rate in your book, as biker movies go?

  2. Check out Fulci's "Cat in the Brain"--seriously crazed.
    The version of The Chinese Connection that Nflix Streaming features is AWFUL! Rotten dubbing and pan-&-scan make it pointless to watch.
    MST3k is something I don't really enjoy, either, but since The Beatniks was SO BAD, I thought I'd give the jokers a chance. Besides, I needed something to listen to while doing the dishes.
    I'm ashamed to admit that I have yet to see The Hard Ride--but it is on my Nflix list!
    Talk soon,

  3. Funnily enough, I have yet to see "Cat in the Brain." Watching "The Hard Ride" now. Seems like a pedestrian entry to me, but it's entertaining nonetheless. Post hippie era, pseudo-naturalistic road movie. Worth a look for biker movie fans based on what I've seen so far at the half-way mark.