Sunday, 13 October 2019

More On Movies - XXII

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED


The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
What can I say? It's one of the best crime action thrillers of all time innit? Four men in disguises high-jack a subway train in New York city. Then hold a carriage of nineteen passengers hostage for a ransom of a million bucks. Mister Blue (Robert Shaw) the criminal kingpin is in radio contact with the head of transit police Lieutenant Garber (Walter Matthau). The clock is ticking though as they have only an hour to deliver the cash before hostages start getting killed. The tension created here is palpable. This is another 70s masterpiece. Sometimes it's very funny but the situation feels pretty real and something that could totally happen. Matthau is brilliant as the Lt Garber. David Shire provides an exquisite score.


Hopscotch (1980)
After watching Taking of Pelham... A Walter Matthau fest was in order and you can't go past this very clever and beautifully realised movie. This is probably top five Matthau. Miles Kendig (Walter Matthau) is a disillusioned CIA agent who decides to write a memoir exposing espionage secrets and particularly the incompetence of his old boss Myerson (Ned Beatty). A spectacular global game of cat and mouse ensues. Kendig travels the world shaking off Myerson and his cronies as they try to stop him publishing his exposé. Kendig is always one step ahead though making him pretty conceited. Will he be caught or remain at large? If you've never seen this cold war comedy/thriller it's worth a look. Matthau's character treads a fine though you'll either find him irritatingly smug or hilariously arrogant. 


Dolemite (1975)
Fuck I haven't seen Dolemite for ages but there's a new biopic on Rudy Ray Moore that got me in the mood. Celebrity biopics are pretty much all same aren't they? So I can't say I'm too excited about that but it was a treat to revisit Dolemite's rough around the edges first cinematic outing from 1975. Dolemite is the chunky ladies man/pimp who was framed by his enemy Willie Green who is working for Mayor Daley. He was found with stolen furs, firearms and drugs because they were planted by his enemies and ended up in prison with a 20 years sentence. He gets an early release though so he can help can capture the goons who framed him and clean up the neighbourhood. His first order of business upon release from gaol is to get changed in the street back into his pimp-alicious threads, now that is a man with the right priorities! Oh boy, we get some stunning stuff such Dolemite's blue proto-rap performance poetry, a harem of Kung Fu hookers, the hamburger guy with the world's funkiest drug walk, dodgy politicians, a black separatist sex fiend Reverend, crazy sexy time with Dolemite, supreme 70s fashion, shoot outs, cool cars, the funkiest soundtrack, wild dancing, incredible 70s dialogue, an amazing bit of violence where Dolemite breaks through Willie's skin with a karate punch revealing his insides and much more. This is an amazing example of what can be done in DIY film making with kinetic energy, a bit of self belief, raw talent and hell of a lot of charisma.


Friday Foster (1975)
Young Pammy is delectable and delightful as the photographer come amateur sleuth Friday Foster. This isn't the greatest blaxploitation movie ever made but it's fun and looks a million bucks compared to its counterparts (Olive also seem to have done an incredible restoration job for the blu-ray). It comes with the usual accoutrements of fine funky threads, boobs, classic cars, pimps, hookers, dialogue unique to the time, glamour, funky soundtrack, black politics, violence, rooftop chases, interior design to die for, shoot outs etc. Look out for spectacular truck crushing man in a phone box sequence! We even get some icons in Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Scatman Crothers and a very funny OTT performance from the one and only Eartha Kitt...oh and that dude from the love boat as a pimp! It's just the plot that's scatty and a little confusing with its political intrigue and strange conspiracy. It all gets wrapped up neatly and cheese-illy in the final minutes Giallo stylee though but that's not really the point is it? Friday Foster is just a great excuse for some outrageous cinematic scenes for the target audience to enjoy.


The Plumber (1979)
This is a good little psychological thriller directed by Peter Weir. When I say little I mean that literally, The Plumber is done and dusted in a zippy 77 minutes. A crazy plumber Max (Ivar Kants) enters an academic couple's apartment for a maintenance job and gradually turns the wife's (Judy Morris) life upside down. Weir creates a whole lot of claustrophobic awkwardness and a great sense of invaded personal space. This film really puts you at unease. It's hard not to read this as an absurd look at champagne socialists, class systems in Australia and civil/uncivil behaviour etc. You can try to just enjoy The Plumber on a surface entertainment level but Weir's un-subtlety tends to encroach upon your brain. I know what I think about stuff. I don't need someone to patronisingly tell me to think about a certain social or political subject. Guess what Pete it doesn't make you deep or provocative. It just makes you seem like a naive tool which perhaps you were.


Sleeping Dogs (1977)
My first thought was what a funny little entertaining movie. I didn't know what to expect going into this except that this was the first feature film Roger Donaldson directed and it was some kind of historical milestone in NZ film-making. I didn't even know Donaldson was an Australian who moved to NZ in his 20s. Sleeping Dogs is a terrific political action movie. A civil war unfolds in New Zealand and a fascist police state is imposed. Smith (Sam Neil) is living on an island with his dog not wanting to be a part of any of it. That doesn't last long as he's framed then captured by the totalitarian government. The plot unfurls from there suffice to say there are police escapes, American allies helping the government including Willoughby (Warren Oates), riots, sheep, violence, torture, bombs and a classic finale. Donaldson went on to international success later in his career directing Cocktail (1988), Species (1995), Dante's Peak (1997), The Bank Job (2008) etc. This was also Sam Neil's feature film breakthrough. He got famous after this, you might have heard of him.


Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)
Hyper-stylised, hyper-violent, hyper-vivid, hyper-gory, hyper-fucked up and a pretty entertaining vigilante movie. Sometimes you gotta watch what the kids are up to. Hey, I'm only eight years late and they really pulled off something extraordinary here. This is incredibly well executed and the action never really lets up so there is no time for distraction. Rutger Hauer is fantastic as the titular character and the rest of the cast are spot on too. Hobo With A Shotgun is a hundred times better than John Fucking Wick. As far as modern day revenge movies go this is going to be hard to top.


Inherent Vice (2014)
This was a first time watch for me and my immediate thoughts were that it's wilfully obtuse and unnecessarily convoluted for what turns out to be a relatively simple story in the end. What I mean is it was a pretty tedious journey to get to the conclusion which made evrything clear. Perhaps Paul Thomas Anderson made it deliberately less coherent than it should have been as the main protagonist Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) is a heavy pot smoker and perhaps we're meant to ride in his confused stoned shoes for the duration of this flick. It's an adaptation though so maybe he was just follows the beats of the novel. Who knows? Inherent Vice however has an ensemble cast to die for who perform at an elevated level. Excellent performances from his actors is something PTA seems to be very adept at achieving, a gift he has. Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Reece Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Joanna Fucking Newsome, Martin Short, Martin Donavan, Eric Roberts and many more star in this rambling neo-noir. Doc is a hippie Private Investigator in 1970 LA. He takes on several cases at once which all end up intersecting Altman stylee. After Punch Drunk Love (2002) PTA went and studied/worked with Robert Altman for a few years didn't he? So that's no surprise. Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood were instantly satisfying so perhaps Inherent Vice requires more than one watch to get a full appreciation of the film. Maybe it's just not quite his usual high standard. I'll watch it again someday and reassess the situation.


Hooper (1978)
Now this is enterfuckingtanment! Some of the most fun to be had at the movies in the 70s. This is pure 70s Americana pop culture gold. Hooper (Burt Reynolds) is a stuntman extraordinaire at the top of his game but it is time to quit while he's ahead with a body that works relatively well. An upstart newcomer to the stunt game Ski (Jan-Michael Vincent) has arrived on Hooper's movie set to make him threatened, escalate one-upmanship but ultimately think about bowing out while he's still number one in the profession. Sally Field is charming as his girlfriend Gwen. James Best is his doctor buddy Cully always with painkillers on hand for HooperJohn Marley (The Godfather, Deathdream) is fabulous as the old timer and the film's producer Max Berns. This film is enjoyable from start to finish with satisfaction guaranteed. I might even be persuaded to give Smokey & The Bandit another go after watching Reynolds and Field here but I never could get into that movie for some reason. The final stunt scene is one of the greatest action sequences of all time, so much happens. We get explosions, many car crashes, fires, imploding buildings, motorbike crashes, blown up bridges and ultimately a rocket car that jumps a river....what more do you need? Oh and a nod to the camera from Burt at the end who does the ok symbol just to top off a crowd pleasing good time. This would have been great to see in cinemas upon first release in 1978. The crowd would have lapped it up.


El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)
I reckon Breaking Bad seasons 1 - 4 are some of the best seasons of telly ever made. It always flummoxed me that they continued after the perfect ending of season four. Season five and five and a half were alright but it just wasn't the same. There were a couple of outstanding episodes amongst these sixteen episodes though. A Breaking Bad film without Walt or Hank or Tuco or Gus or Hector or Skyler or Saul or Mike in major roles is hardly a Breaking Bad movie at all is it? It's a fucking Jesse show and you know what? I think he was one of my least favourite characters in the show because he was always trying to be this moral compass that we were all supposed be sympathetic towards. He somehow thought he was better than all the other despicable characters but had been just as evil himself. I would have loved a Breaking Bad movie with Gus or Tuco as the main character rather than Jesse. El Camino was an ok revenge flick but it was nowhere near the magnificence of most of the episodes of the first four seasons of the telly series. Jesse escapes all the bloody mayhem of the final episode to go in search of cash stashed somewhere in Todd's apartment. Things then take a strange turn. In the end he seeks revenge upon Neil (Scott MacArthur) a character who was a minuscule player and I don't even think he was in an episode the show? Was he in the show? Anyway he was apparently the guy who rigged up the apparatus for Todd and his uncle that made sure Jesse was fully chained up like a dog, could never escape but was still able to cook methamphetamine for them. There's some urban western shenanigans. Then the great Robert Forster reprises his role as Ed Galbraith and he (Forster) quite possibly died while we were watching this internet movie. RIP Robert Forster.



Vigilante (1983)
Robert Forster died (13/7/41 - 11/10/19) just as he was getting the love and recognition he always deserved. I watched my favourite Forster film Walking The Edge (1985) a couple of weeks ago so I decided to go for my second favourite and then my third (see below this review). Vigilante just gets better each time I watch it. Eddie Marino (Robert Forster) is a hard working nice guy who's a husband and a father in Cesspool era NYC. Some of his work colleagues including Nick (Fred Williamson) are in a vigilante gang to try and bring peace and order to their neighbourhood. Eddie disputes their motives until one day when he comes home to find his eight year old son shot dead and his wife in intensive care due to a gang home invasion. Eddie is soon on the revenge trail. Look out for special short appearance from Joe Spinell as Lawyer Eisenburg and Woody Strode as prison inmate Rake. This Bill Lustig directed gem has become a top Ten 80s film for me.



Jackie Brown (1997)
This masterpiece of a film is just perfection. It was great role for Robert Forster. While this ensemble cast all contribute brilliantly, it's the chemistry of Max Cherry (Robert Forster) and Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) that gets us in our feelings. They play their middle aged, world weary, quietly romantic characters with such poise and sensitivity. Melanie (Bridget Fonda) and Louis (Robert De Niro) provide the comedy gold, Ordell (Samuel L Jackson) is just heinous and Ray (Michael Keaton) is a jerk off but strangely likeable. Forster was nominated for an Oscar and a golden globe for his role as Max Cherry. I'm not going into it, you know it, you've seen it and it's still as fresh today as the day it was released. This is the only film Quentin adapted from a book and it's the best thing he ever did so...er...read between those lines folks.


Small Time Crime (2017)
Robert Forster is not the lead here but he does play a bad arse muther fucker of a grandfather whose granddaughter has been killed by a nefarious ring of paedophiles. He is on a vengeance bent and he doesn't disappoint. However this film belongs to Sol (John Hawkes) from Deadwood. He plays Mike Kendall an ex-cop who's a total drunk fuck up. Mike accidentally becomes embroiled in a complicated extortion beef after finding a half dead girl by the side of the road. This is a tremendous little neo-noir-western/thriller/crime drama. The entire cast here are on point but a special mention must go to total creep Orthopedic played superbly by Jeremy Ratchford. I recommend.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

More On Movies - October

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED


Going In Style (1979)
This is a whole different tone to the remake from 2017. The remake was good but this 1979 original is a stone cold classic. It's so bittersweet, naturally sad, pretty fun and just a wonderful piece of filmmaking. Three old retired men are bored with the ho hum of senior citizen life in the suburbs of NY so they organise a bank robbery in the city to add a little pizazz to their lives. Time's running out so what have they got to lose? This is made with a special touch and wonderful low key acting that is totally charming. Starring George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg.


Can't Buy Me Love (1987)
A lil rom-com/teen angst/high school cliques suck movie. I kept expecting to recall certain scenes but I really don't think I saw this while I was in High School. By 1987 Dogs In Space and Blue Velvet had already been released so this shit had no chance. I was never into John Hughes and his clones anyway it all just seemed so phoney, serious, corny and wanky. "I'm an adult film director and I've got a message for you kids that's going to change your world and I'm not being patronising honest." These type of films were sort of in ideal fantasy land where reality was wished away. The acting here's good though and I suppose it's a fair example of the sub-genre. One thing I do like is that it's not set in the usual LA or NYC. It's refreshingly set in Tuscon with a cast not full of your typical 80s teen actors. This is for other people though, the nostalgists who were the right age at the time of originally viewing this flick.

Quick Change (1990)
Excellent premise for a bank heist movie. Was it meant to be funny though? There's gotta be nothing worse than a comedy without any laughs. Am I the only person in the world who can't stand Bill Murray? Randy Quaid is awful as the overacting Loomis, there's even less laughs from him. Geena Davis is always good though with her charisma all over the place and Jason Robards is great but that can't save this bollocks though. Quick Change gets a bit of love from the VHS nerds which mystifies me.


Killing Of A Chinese Bookie (1976/78)
I watched the the shorter re-released 1978 version which I now believe is vastly superior to the original bloated cut from 1976 which was promptly withdrawn from cinemas. The 1976 theatrical release of this was just a bit much, way too self self indulgent, containing too many unnecessary scenes and obviously not well edited. The 1978 version tightens up the whole thing, removes the tripe, rearranges scenes around and generally turns it into a bleak mini masterpiece. This is a prime example of how important editing is. John Cassavetes and his editor turning an almost unwatchable and boring flick into a gem is an incredible feat. Cosmo (Ben Gazzara) owns a strip club in LA but is a degenerate gambler. He owes Mort (Seymour Cassel) and his goons tens of thousands of dollars. They will let him wipe out his absurdly high debt if he can do their dirty work of killing Harold Ling a Chinese bookie for them. All is not as it seems though. Supreme acting from everyone particularly the aforementioned Ben Gazzara and Seymour Cassel.


American Grindhouse (2010)
Wow they try to cover over a hundred years of film-making in just eighty minutes. You could do a doc on each of the exploitation sub-genres covered here ie. nudie cuties, biker movies, Nazisploitation, porn, women in prison flicks, sex hygiene films, horror, blaxploitation, roughies etc. But for a quick and breezy look inside America's contribution to exploitation cinema it's ok. It's like an exploitation sampler, see what you like then go for a deeper search on that subject later in your own time. All cinema is exploitation though innit? John Landis and Joe Dante could talk about a polo match and I'd be into it. We also get Kim Morgan, Alison Anders, Bill Lustig, Jonathan Kaplan, Jack Hill, Larry Cohen as talking heads plus some boring dudes who wrote some books on the subject. Robert Forster narrates and Alligator (1980) rates a mention toward the end. This is definitely for neophytes. 

The Killers (1964)
I know I've seen this before but I just couldn't get into it tonight at all as it was way too melodramatic and the pacing seemed strange. I usually enjoy everything Don Siegal does, even though his casting choices are sometimes dubious his end product is usually fairly superior but this... Angie Dickinson is so bad right? John Cassavetes even gave me the shits tonight. Perhaps I was having a bad day but then again maybe I wasn't. Lee Marvin however is always fabulous and on point. Stick to the legendary 1946 version with Burt Lancaster & Ava Gardner.


A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995)
Marty goes through his personal history of American pictures with his usual eloquence and enthusiasm. If you know a lot or very little about American Cinema this is essential viewing. Going to film school must be so disappointing because Scorsese is not your professor and anything less would just be an inferior education. I hear people on podcasts who are teachers, lecturers and professors and think fuck who would pay to sit in a lecture theatre to hear these  semi-moronic twits with no original thoughts or insights of their own. They just regurgitate shit they've heard and you've probably already heard too. Anyway A Personal Journey... is fantastic. Marty is my professor.


White Line Fever (1975)
This is not what I was expecting at all. I suppose I was thinking this was going be a good time 70s trucker action flick but hell no, not with Jonathan Kaplan, the man behind Truck Turner (1974), Over The Edge (1979) & The Accussed (1988), directing. As you might expect this is actually pretty dark stuff, addressing grim social issues of the time. It's still totally worth watching though. Carrol Jo Hummer (Jan-Michael Vincent) buys an expensive truck to start a career in the truckin' business. He soon soon discovers corruption is rife in the long haul game but he will not toe the line to their criminal ways. Many violent shenanigans ensue with some fine trucking action. Watch out for the iconic scene of Carrol and his rig named The Blue Mule crashing through a corporate sign. Gritty entertainment.


The Wrecking Crew (2008)
Another rock doc. This was released around the time this sub-genre was reaching critical mass. If you haven't read all the books and the magazines and need to know about The Wrecking Crew then go ahead check this out. Did you know Brian Wilson liked Be My Baby? This documentary does however feature Carol Kaye the world's most famous unknown bass guitarist and best. She most likely played bass on one of your favourite pop songs or all of them. Also she most likely played on your favourite soundtrack too. Now that I'm writing about her, I reckon a documentary on Carol Kaye would have been a much better idea as she really is the most fascinating human specimen here. Is she the coolest woman to have ever walked the earth? I mean she played bass on These Boots Are Made For Walkin' AND Wichita Lineman plus literally Ten Thousand other recordings.


The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Political intrigue thriller with a fair amount of comedy too. Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart are the draw cards but the rest of cast were fantastic too, however beware of bad child actor Christopher Olsen. The 40s & 50s were a nadir for kids acting in films. I've not seen this classic in over thirty years. My dad had a video of it along with some other Hitchcock gems like Rear Window (1954) and North By North West (1959). I'm amazed at how much of the movie I remember so it must have got quite a thrashing on the old VCR. It's not quite in the league of the aforementioned two films but it's still pretty bloody suspenseful. I'm going to say it again: Alfred could have trimmed 20+ minutes of fat here but hey he still makes such marvellous pictures that are a pleasure to watch.


Citizen X (1995)
Well this is magnificent. Forgotten crime drama gold that totally surprised me so that was fucking cool. This is a HBO made for tv film that is quite possibly the best in its field. This is based on the true story of Russian serial killer Andre Chikatilo but like this years Chernobyl mini series also on HBO it focuses on the the absurd obstacles in the way of the investigation due to the incompetence and corruption of the Communist Party and its bureaucracy. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if Citizen X was used as a blueprint for Chernobyl (2019). If this movie had been theatrically released I get the feeling it would show up in best films of all time lists and cannons but it languishes in the telly movie ghetto. I recommend.


Smash Palace (1981)
Grim New Zealand family/crime drama that takes a strange turn. A race car driver Al (Bruno Lawrence) runs a car wreck yard called Smash Palace but his life is not turning out the way he would have liked and he gradually becomes more and more unhinged, endangering his wife, daughter and friends. Incredibly put together film that includes some great car racing scenes and the rustically charming but isolated NZ countryside. Shazza O'Neil contributes mucho 80s pop to the soundtrack. Smash Palace is highly regarded and usually considered one of the top five films to ever emanate out of the land of the long white cloud.


Money Movers (1979)
Aussie heist classic based on a true story directed by Bruce Berresford. Corrupt cops and robbers movie that flopped at the box office but is probably in the top 10 Australian crime movies of all time now. Star studded cast with Terry Donovan leading the great roll call that includes Bryan Brown, Bud Tingwall, Lucky Grills, Tony Bonner etc. This may well be the first in Australian Film & TV to document our ridiculous police corruption that has been rife throughout my lifetime particularly in the 70s, 80s and 90s in the states of Victoria and New South Wales. Some of the script is just perfection capturing the smart arse Aussie language of the time. A convoluted plot to describe on paper but not hard to follow whilst watching suffice to say there's an inside job on a payroll company planned and all hell breaks loose. Money Movers is also fucking brutal. Look out for sensational scene where Robert Conway (Lucky Grills) slaps the arse of female co-worker and does some smooth sexy talk. Money Movers probably shouldn't have been set in Sydney because it just looked like it was set in Adelaide where it was actually filmed.


One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
Elisha Cook Jr. alert! He has a brief role here as a bank-teller. This is the only picture Marlon Brando directed and it was unbelievably auspicious. What could have been? One-Eyed Jacks is an epic of biblical proportions and is beautifully crafted. Rio aka The Kid (Marlon Brando) is stitched up by his partner in crime Dad (Karl Malden) and is left to be captured by the law. Rio ends up spending five years of hard labour until he escapes with vengeance on his mind. The epic tale then continues to unfurl. We get a dash of comedy as well as some romance amongst the usual western tropes of brotherhood, revenge, gunslinging violence, hard drinking and betrayal. Marlon Brando is totally creepy and charismatic at the same time. David Lynch named the casino/brothel in Twin Peaks after the film's title, surely that's enough of a recommendation to watch this unique film.


7 Men From Now (1956)
I reckon this is such a bad title and kinda pretentious which the film definitely is not. The first of the Ranown Cycle of westerns teaming up director Budd Boetticher and actor Randolph Scott. Ben Stride (Randolph Scott) is an ex-sheriff out in the middle of nowhere in Arizona where he runs into villains and a clueless couple from the East who all end up accompanying one another to the border town of Flora Vista. Stride is a somewhat morally ambiguous man who has revenge on his mind and the full picture of why incrementally unfolds. Suffice to say there's stolen gold, threatening Indians, shoot outs and even some chaste romance. Lee Marvin is impressive as the slippery trouble maker Bill Masters.


eXistenZ (1999)
Ellegra Gellar (Jenny Jason Leigh) creates an amazing bio-tech virtual reality game called eXistenZ. The game plugs into your spine via a bio-port. Things then swiftly get strange and confusing as to what's real and what is the game. I love the all encompassing vibe of this movie. The ensemble cast that includes Jude Law, Don McKellar, Willem Dafoe, Oskar Hsu etc. put in a hell of a collective performance. It's a Cronenberg film so theres some weird, grotesque and icky stuff such as the anus-like bio-ports, the weapons made out of a disgusting Chinese meal of mutant amphibians and human teeth, the gross infected genitalia/internal organ-esque game pods etc. When it was originally in cinemas I went to see it, then after it finished I watched it again. Cronenberg could have kept this game loop going for another hour or for eternity really. The deliciousness of this film lies in you trying to you figure out what's real and what isn't. Quite possibly my favourite film directed by the great David Cronenberg.


Black Widow (1987)
Very enjoyable thriller that fits neatly into that genre's era particular to the late 80s/early 90s time frame. Why has Bob Rafelson only made 10 movies? I mean he's been in the game for over fifty years. The first half of Black Widow is pretty much a police procedural while the much improved second half is a neo-noir. This could well be Theresa Russell's finest performance, I don't think she did any shonky acting at all in the entire film! Debra Winger is outstanding. 



Black Rainbow (1989)
Whilst watching this, which I'd never seen, I kept wondering why is this not famous or cult-y like Blood Simple (1984), Angel Heart (1987) or even Red Rock West (1993)? Black Rainbow is not a film that fits easily into a category or one particular sub-genre plus the ending is not going to be for everyone. In fact it's going to downright infuriate many. Black Rainbow is such a fantastic film though, perhaps it's best to give the ending the benefit of the doubt. I mean it's directed by Mike Hodges of Get Carter (1971) fame and he does a splendid job. A medium Martha Travis (Rosanna Arquette) ends up not just talking to the dead but predicting death and eventually stumbling across a conspiracy. This causes reporters, sinister businessmen and hitmen to all become involved in this supernatural southern gothic noir-ish thriller. Martha's dad and business partner is played by Jason Robards who is great as per usual.


Crash (1996)
Don't expect a much of a plot or anything, this is a portrait of a bunch of people obsessed with masochism and car crash fetishisation. This David Cronenberg flick adapted from a JG Ballard story shocked viewers back in the day with its car crash injury sex amongst scrap metal. These were the days before the my little pony sex people and loli so now it all seems rather tame and laughable that there was ever an outrage over this film. If you've always wanted to watch James Spader have sex with a bevy of car crash victims in various states of physical injury then Crash is for you.


I, Madman (1989)
Not to be confused with the z-grade slasher Madman (1981). This is a pretty good horror movie where reality and fantasy intermingle. Virginia's (Jenny Wright) reading a couple of obscure horror novels by Malcolm Brand but the stories start bleeding into her reality. Some good strange scary stuff and even a monster. Like a cross between In The Mouth of Madness (1995), a monster movie and a slasher. Well worth a look 30 years later if you've never seen it or even if you have. This is a very charming lil flick, so much so that I can't believe this wasn't one of the biggest box office hits of 1989.

Network (1976)
A bunch of yelly people proselytise their way through two hours plus of OTT drama. A satire as subtle as a sledgehammer, Network takes potshots at news media, global politics, mental illness, TV and its viewers. Perhaps it's not half as clever as it thinks it is though as one man claims there are no longer ideologies but when it came down to it he was pretty much preaching the ideology of globalisation. These themes are totally prescient though. This might have been mind blowing stuff in the mid 70s but these concepts and ideas are still hashed out in the old school media, youtube and twitter on a daily basis. Network is hardly cinematic at all. The dialogue is a dense word barrage that would probably have worked better as a radio play. Hey it's got Faye Dunaway and it's directed by Sidney Lumet though.


Alone In The Dark (1982)
I like surprises and this was unexpectedly engaging. Maybe I shouldn't have been amazed though, as it was directed by Jack Sholder who a few years later would make the underrated mini classic The Hidden (1987) plus it's got the starpower of Donald Pleasance, Martin Landau and Jack Palance. I guess it it's hard to beat Halloween (1978) in the slasher stakes so why not chuck in not one escapee from the asylum but four? Including a paedophile named Fatty (Erland Van Lidth). The foursome break free when there's a blackout. They've been told that the new Psychiatrist Dr Dan Potter (Dwight Schulz) murdered the previous doctor which is wrong but they are on a rampage to kill him and his family anyway. It feels like Donald Pleasance is reprising his Halloween role as Dr Loomis here except he's called Dr Bain. It's got modern day use of a bow and arrow as a murder weapon which always tickles me. Alone In The Dark is well put together and very bloody entertaining.


Upgrade (2018)
I gotta say I was worried fifteen minutes in, Upgrade just felt too slow, generic, retro and boring but sometime in the following ten minutes it occurred to me that I'd become transfixed and was unable to be distracted for the rest of the movie. We get a lot of Melbourne, with heaps of Richmond and Australian actors who couldn't hold down their American accents for very long if at all. The mum from Offspring doing an American accent was weird. This is another mega-mix pastiche movie that James Wan and Leigh Whannell are so fond of but this time it's sci-fi like Terminator, RoboCop, Total Recall, Nightrider etc. For Upgrade Whannell is out on his own for both directing and writing duties. Remember 80s terms like cyber-punk and body horror well that's what Upgrade is indebted to. The only way I can describe it is that it I felt like I was watching Kit (from Nightrider) intermingle with Michael Knight's mind and body in a Robocop kinda way.

Lost Gully Road (2017)
What can I say about this movie? er...Clare Moore & Dave Graney provide an excellent score.

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Taxi Driver (1976)
Little known film starring Bob De Niro as Travis Bickle, a delusional psychopathic cab driver who becomes an accidental anti-hero in mid 70s NYC. It's not too bad.

The Making Of Taxi Driver (1999)
You know the drill they made a movie then they made another one about making that one. I don't know that I can recommend it but if you're a film buff you've seen it or you're gonna see it anyway. Here's some iconic pics from behind the scenes of one of the greatest films ever made.


Oh my God how handsome are these two? Bob so young plus that's gotta be the coolest picture ever taken of Marty.


Iconic photo that has done the rounds. Cybill Shepherd with icy pole I love you. Puts in perspective how little Marty is, an artistic giant however.


Now this is interesting because I always think of Paul Schrader (left) as mentally ill, physically ill, fucked up on alcohol and drugs, socially inept, living in his car and generally living in a skank. That all must have been when he was writing the script of Taxi Driver though which was several years before filming took place. So he'd obviously sold a few scripts and got his shit together by 1975. I mean look at him, he's lookin v suave. Good Job Paul!


Now this is interesting too. That's Jodes and her sister Connie who was much older but pretty much the same size. Connie was her stand in during inappropriate scenes for the then 12 year old Jody Foster who was playing a child prostitute. This was a very touchy subject that involved The Welfare Board, Governor Pat Brown, psychiatric assessments and the eventual requirement to have a social worker on set at all times.


Just love this photo. This was the late 20th century folks and these were artists who were masters in their field. History.


I love the relationship between these two as Travis and Wizard (Peter Boyle) in the film. Wizard's like Bickle's only connection to reality and that's not a hell of a lot is it?


Travis Bickle and Sport (Harvey Keitel). What astounds me here is that in Taxi Driver (1976) these two are entirely different people from Johnny Boy & Charlie Cappa from Mean Streets (1973). Two great actors that were in the midst of reaching incredible artistic achievements.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Excerpt From A Teenage Opera


Check out this sound of brown folks. Not just the sound but the vision too. I do not recall this being a hit in Australia but Emma assures me it was a big one in the UK. Hang on I wasn't born yet but you never hear this one on Golden Oldies Radio at least not here in Australia. Totally disturbing video considering England's reputation with TV & kids. Actually I quite like the tune. Graet creepy children's choir...Grocer Jack Oh No...    

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Live Skull

1984 - 1986


The classic Live Skull line up for me was Mark C, Tom Pain, Marnie Greenholz and James Lo. This combo recorded Live Skull EP (1984), Bringing Home The Bait (1985), Pusherman EP (1986) Cloud One (1986) and that live at CBGB LP which are all choice documents of great Post-Punk 80s NYC noise rock. Pre-Thalia Zedek Live Skull fucking ruled. The ferocious ramshackle charm of these early records is intoxicating. This was a cinema-scope swirling chaotic sonic attack. They had an intrinsic sense of the absurd and macabre that reflected the turmoil that was right outside on their NYC doorstep. They found beauty in the grotesque and revelled in it. It's funny, in the mid 80s if you read a sentence containing the words Sonic Youth it would invariably also contain the words Live Skull and Swans. Before Sonic Youth finally hit upon their ecstatic noise-rock heights with their all time classics Sister (1987) and Daydream Nation (1988), Live Skull had already successfully laid the groundwork with their own delirious noise-rock peaks Bringing Home The Bait (1985) & Cloud One (1986). Beyond 1986 they were eclipsed though and Live Skull were done by 1989, missing the era of the underground going overground. Now you barely hear them name checked at all, the seminal NYC noise-rock group were then sort of dropped from the historical narrative of underground American rock. Swans got some kind of a post-millennial reputation rehabilitation but Live Skull remain on the outside, languishing in obscurity. God even the fairly impenetrable but awesome noiseniks UT had some reissues and critical attention a while back. However a campaign is now underway making Live Skull's recordings available once again to the public. At this stage the first (and best) four records have been remastered and added to their bandcamp page. If you love your 80s noise-rock, MX80 Sound, Homestead Records, NZ's scuzzy psych-post-punk groups Scorched Earth Policy, The Max Block etc. (who also existed in this 84/85/86 timeframe) then this is probably your bag...oh and because during 1984-1986 Live Skull were possibly the best band on the planet.



*Also the covers, very funny. I mean a brain in a trophy?! Then the trio of foxy naked ladies running into a mysterious scary sci-fi sea or whatever the fuck's going on there?! This was all part of their outlandish dark charm. Pure pop art gold.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Terry - Twinkle



I'd seriously never heard this until this afternoon. It came on Emma's playlist. I said "That's a great Leader Of The Pack rip off. What era is it from?" It turns out it's from 1964 too. I've probably read about the song before though, as I'm sure Bob Stanley would be a huge fan and I did read all 700 pages of his magnum opus on modern pop music, Yeah Yeah Yeah. Anyway what a delight Twinkle is. She was only 16 when she wrote and recorded Terry making her the Shampoo of her era. Were Shampoo just pretending to be younger than they actually were though? Well that's a question for the ages. Apparently a fella by the name of Jimmy Page played on the Terry session too. The BBC and ITV banned the tune, which is always a guarantee of success innit? It reached number 4 in the British Hit Parade. 



This was Twinkle's follow up single which reached number 21 in the UK charts. I can't believe I did not know The Smiths didn't write this. I always thought it was one of the worst Smiths songs and didn't understand how it fitted into the rest of Morrissey's lyrics. Ha...now I know and I kinda like it...well Twinkle's version is very good. I don't think she ever bothered the charts again after Golden Lights which is a bit of a shame as she was quite obviously talented but that's the nature of pop though innit?


The Smiths version featuring Kirsty MacColl was the b-side to the Ask single from 1986, both of which were subsequently included on The World Won't Listen (1986) compilation.





One was mutton. One was lamb. Pretty good tune though, still holds up I reckon.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Abstract Cinema/Visual Music - Part III





This is the early European stuff before computers. Doesn't it just make you frustrated that movies are/were so beholden to literature and theatre. "We must have a story otherwise it's nonsense." Even directors I admire such as Hitchcock throwing around the word PURE CINEMA had it so wrong. This is the real PURE CINEMA.


This third one is Opus III from 1924.

Walter Ruttmann was German and his fellow colleagues in the art form were Oscar Fischinger, Viking Eggeling, Hans Richter etc. He also collaborated with advertisers, theatre directors, mainstream film-makers and Nazi propagandists like Julius Pinschewer, Fritz Lang, Erwin Piscator, Leni Riefenstahl. Ruttman was also a musician.

 



These last two are collaborations with Julius Pinschewer for advertising. The mainstream has been co-opting the underground for a long time, it's traditional. 

Saturday, 7 September 2019

John & James Whitney...again















These brothers were the fathers of Avant-Garde Abstract Animation Cinema and pioneers of Computer Graphics. Their work has also been called Visual Music! These guys should be as famous as The Beatles. A previous post from 2012 here. John and James are fascinating. They worked with Rene Leibowitz, Guggenheim, IBM, Hitchcock, Saul Bass etc. If a fucking documentary can be made about such hokey non-innovators as Wilco surely a Whitney Brothers documentary would be well deserved and warranted. Could the term visionary be any more appropriate for John and James Whitney. This is true pure cinema, it's not following literary traditions, there are no narratives here. This is absolute sound and vision synergy.

*More in future posts.

Monday, 2 September 2019

More on Movies - September

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED



The Trip (1967) 
Peter Fonda died. My first thought was to watch The Trip followed by Race With The Devil (1975) and then if I was still awake watch either Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974), The Hired Hand (1971) or Wild Angels (1966). Funny thing is I watched The Trip a couple of years ago and I hated it after loving it when I was in my twenties and it was always in my best movies of all time list. Tonight I fucking loved it again. You just have to realise it is what it is and go with it man. Everywhere Paul (Peter Fonda) goes - the houses, beaches, clubs, cafes, cars and streets are all so so groovy. Los Angeles looks so fucking cool here. The weird thing is Paul is the most normal person in the entire flick but he's the one tripping out on LSD. He wears really normal clothes like a v-neck jumper over a collared shirt while everyone else around him is in freaky garb. The kaleidoscopic sequences paired with the soundtrack are perfectly psychedelic. It made me want to dig out all my psychedelic records, which I haven't listened to in ages. Roger Corman often gets recognition as an amazing producer and business man but this is a stunning piece of directing work as opposed to his previous and very inferior effort Wild Angels (1966). If only Mr Nicholson wrote another twenty movies instead of just the six. Oh, I nearly forgot Bruce Dern with a great beard stars as John who is Paul's spirit guide for his first acid trip. Look out for Dennis Hopper and Susan Strasberg in supporting roles. Thank you for the actoring Peter Fonda.


Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)
My Fonda Fest continues but I couldn't locate my Race With The Devil (1975) dvd so this was the next best thing I could find. In fact it might be even better than that flick. You're either going think the main trio of outlaws Larry (Peter Fonda), Mary (Susan George) and Deke (Adam Roarke) are just crass and obnoxious or a little bit funny, rather frank and risqué. I think it depends on your mood. There is no doubt though that this is one hell of a high octane car chase road movie, quite possibly the best of its ilk from the 70s. Special mention must go to Mike Margulies, the cinematographer, the way he captures the action and what surrounds it is totally exquisite and peerless for its time. Pete and Deke are involved in a supermarket heist with kidnapping, car swaps, car chases, many near captures, more car chases and many car crashes. This one is for the rev heads but it has across the board appeal as the suspense builds every time they are nearly caught. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry just doesn't let up with the thrilling action until the very end. Fine performances all round. Americana pop culture at its finest.



They Came To Rob Las Vegas (1968)
This starts out so promising. You think it's going to be a great lost mob heist movie but before it gets halfway it starts to sag and ends up being a bloated action crime film that literally loses the plot. They Came... is not without its merits though. The footage of the streets of Las Vegas, San Fransisco and Los Angeles in the late 60s is out fucking standing. The night scenes of Vegas are particularly appealing. All the trappings of the high rolling mid to late 60s lifestyle are captured in fine detail. Gary Lockwood puts in an interesting performance along with his partner in crime Elke Sommer. I'm guessing this was filmed after 2001: A Space Odyssey (?). Most of the rest of the cast start out promising but end up being pretty tedious and quite awful, kinda like they got fed up with the film halfway through too. By the end there have been so many double crosses and dull stretches of film you just don't care what happens. This is one hell of a mess of a motion picture but some of it is a beautiful historical document.


Getting Straight (1970)
Despite it's heavy handed ideological proselytising and melodrama this somehow remains a pretty good film, many consider it a classic. Elliot Gould is in full throttle Gould mode here and he gets some incredibly sharp, scathing and sometimes pretentious dialogue. Harry (Gould) goes back to uni to get his masters degree as last time he was there to study he got sucked into the radical student politics of the time. Now he is determined to study hard despite the distractions of politics, parties, poverty & pussy. I think Getting Straight is a love story disguised as a campus radical film. That love story is a fiery one between Harry and Jan (Candice Bergen). I wouldn't say Harry treats Jan particularly well throughout the film but Jan mystifyingly seems to love him anyway. This is an incredibly well put together film that's visceral and sometimes feels like it's about to veer off the rails but manages to just stay on track, which is a testament to the directing skills of Richard Rush. Other significant movies Rush directed include Thunder Alley (1967), Psych-Out (1968), Freebie & The Bean (1974) and The Stunt Man (1980). Let's not forget the excellent supporting cast of Max Julien, Harrison Ford, Jeff Corey, Robert F Lyons etc.


The Wild Angels (1966)
Back to my Fonda Fest.You can have icons like Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Nancy Sinatra, Dianne Ladd etc. You can have a cool fuzzed up and bongo driven soundtrack. You can have that famous snatch of dialogue from Blues (Peter Fonda) that ended up in the classic Primal Scream hit tune Loaded*. You can have a rebellious doomed criminal who goes by the name of Loser (Dern). You can chuck in general violent thuggery, rape, silly dancing, booze, drugs and nihilistic hedonism. There's even a wild anarchistic funeral party where a church gets trashed and the preacher is bashed but The Wild Angels still doesn't quite cut it. On paper it sounds so fucking great so why isn't it? It had all the right ingredients but something about the way it was made was off including a poor script. I wonder if bikers of the time dug it? I guess a lot of them probably did as it was one of the top twenty films of the year at the box office. Anyway it still leaves me cold and just plain bored as it did twenty years ago when I first saw it (Is that the grumpy giving up smoking me talking though?). Maybe you need to be off your head to enjoy it. Perhaps I'll re-watch it one day under the influence and see if my opinion changes. I'd rather watch She Devil's On Wheels (1968) to be quite honest. However Wild Angels is a historical counter-cultural artefact that youngsters will need to study. Others will watch it as some kind of degenerate right of passage however it's nowhere near as fun as say a Ramones or Dictators song. Southern California is captured wonderfully on film though. Plus there is footage of a ye olde gas station in a bucolic setting which is eye candy for Space Debris.

*Is it a coincidence that some of that snatch of dialogue that was used in Primal Scream's Loaded was also used on In n Out Of Grace a Mudhoney tune from the early grunge milestone Superfuzz Bigmuff EP released two years earlier in 1988? I kinda get the feeling Andy Weatherall sampled the sample...and does it matter? and who cares?


The Hired Hand (1971)
Was every film made in 1971 a classic? The Fonda Fest continues. This time Peter Fonda trades in his motorbike for a horse and grows a beard as he stars alongside Warren Oates and Verna Bloom. All three performers are outstanding here. Fonda directs this beautifully subtle yet complex Western. The first thing you will notice is the wonderful lackadaisical and impressionistic cinematography from Vilmos Zsigmond coupled with the brilliant and incredibly complimentary languid soundtrack which mainly consists of fiddle, banjo, guitar and Appalachian dulcimer composed by Mr Tamborine Man Bruce Langhorne. A special mention must also go to Frank Mazzola the film's editor. While The Hired Hand doesn't have the biff, bang, pow of a Wild Bunch (1969) it's still a western with the usual tropes of vengeance, brotherhood, boozing and gunslinging violence. A box office flop with a lukewarm response from critics at its time of release The Hired Hand could easily have disappeared off the movie map for good but like Vertigo (1958) it has since had a reputation rehabilitation. Some now rightfully consider this a classic of the genre. This was quite possibly Peter Fonda's finest artistic achievement. The Hired Hand now enters the Space Debris Hall Of Fame (What an honour that must be to inducted into).


Killer Force aka The Diamond Mercenaries aka Killer Commando (1976)
The Fonda Fest starts to get weird here. Peter Fonda trades in his horse for a jeep and helicopter. He keeps the beard and once again has very fucking cool sunglasses but here's the weird part he perms his usually awesome straight hair to end up looking like a fucking awful version of Mike Brady. I mean Mike Brady's hair was pretty spectacular but Fonda's pubic looking perm just does not hold a candle to it. If I was the director Val Guest I would have demanded he go back to his usual great hair. Peter Fonda was a tricky bastard to work with though so I doubt he'd have listened. Anyway not only do we get one pop culture icon in Fonda we get several others such as Telly Savalas, OJ Fucking Simpson, Christopher Lee and two time Bond girl Maud Adams. This is a pretty good el-cheapo B-movie heist thriller with some crazy action mainly of the explosive variety including cars that crash then blow up, helicopters that blow up, planes that blow up, buildings that blow up and a whole lotta machine gun violence and death. The symphonic funk score from Georges Garvarentz is pure 70s gold. Bradley (Fonda) is the security manager for a diamond mine somewhere in the deserts of South Africa and Clare (Maud Adams) is his gorgeous international model girlfriend. Harry Webb (Savalas) is the sleazy and unhinged head of security for the international diamond syndicate and he arrives at the isolated mine to tighten up security as it is suspected a heist is about to be attempted by a group of mercenaries along with a kingpin called Father Christmas. A pretty good story unfolds from there. One scene is particularly satisfying (if only it were real) when Alexander (OJ), one of the mercenaries, is gunned down and killed. Special mention must go to Vincci Of London for supplying Savalas's threads which are outstanding and impeccable. I'd probably have never come across this forgotten film if it wasn't for the magnificent Kino Lorber label who released the blu-ray in 2016.



Night Of The Comet (1984)
Haven't seen this unclassifiable movie since the mid 80s and I'm rarely one for nostalgia but I fucking loved it. I don't even really know why. I'm guessing I would have kinda liked it when I first saw it in 1984 but the ending probably would have perplexed me so it didn't become a much replayed 84/85 classic of my early teens like Back To The Future, The Temple Of Doom, Repo Man, Better Off Dead, Bachelor Party or The Sure Thing. Now the ending feels just right. A comet is coming at 2AM so everyone in Los Angeles is having a party waiting for a spectacular light show. Almost everyone evaporates except people who were protected by being somewhere with steel walls including Regina (Katherine Mary Stewart) who spent the night in a projection booth, Sam (Keli Maroney) who slept in a shed in the backyard and Hector (Robert Beltran) who slept in the cabin of his truck. In the morning they wake to find the streets eerily deserted. All that remains of the population is their clothes and red dust. Some research scientists have survived too as they suspected something cataclysmic was going to happen. They were hiding out in a bunker and amongst them was Audrey (Mary Woronov). The scientists go out in search of any survivors for their own selfish and sinister needs. Find out what happens by watching this classic piece of unique visionary cinema. Directed by Thom Everhardt. The all encompassing vibe of the desolate empty streets and the sky with its weird hazy orange hue is totally intoxicating. Somehow this isn't a bleak film. There is much goodness to be found on the very 80s soundtrack. Perhaps I'll give Everhadt's directorial debut Sole Survivor (1983) another shot. Night Of The Comet is my favourite film rediscovery of the year.


Electra Glide In Blue (1973)
Wow! I think I just watched my new favourite film. I've been meaning to watch this flick since I first saw the dvd in video shops sometime in the 00s. It only took me 15+ years to finally experience this magnificent 70s masterpiece. This film is note perfect, instinctual film making, incredible story telling on a grand scale and absolute sound & vision synergy. Electra Glide In Blue is an existential road movie that is up there with the great Two Lane Black Top (1971) and Vanishing Point (1971). The acting is turned up, but not in a bad way, in a believable humans are ridiculous creatures kinda way. John Wintergreen (Robert Blake) and partner Zipper Davis (Billy Green Bush) are highway patrol motorbike cops in the wonderfully scenic Arizona. Wintergreen has dreams of moving up the ranks to become a homicide officer. His wish is granted but he starts to see the hypocrisy and brutality of the homicide unit as no different from any other department in the law force. Will he become part of the problem with crushed dreams or remain true to his fair humanistic ideals? Look out for Elisha Cook Jr. who you may remember as Charlie, Point Dume's resident old man nutcase who doesn't mind a tipple, from Messiah of Evil (1973). This time he's a mentally challenged desert dwelling recluse called Willie. The fabulous soundtrack from William Guercio is a rare example of the director doing the score too. Guercio had an incredible gift for film making but this is the only feature he directed. He was better known in the music world where he was a composer, arranger, record producer and winner of several Grammys. If you've never seen this I highly recommend it with a money back guarantee.


Gone With The Pope aka Kiss The Ring (2009)
I finally lay my hands on this movie. If you love Duke Mitchell's Massacre Mafia Style (1974) you might dig Gone With The Pope (1975/2009) but don't count your chickens. This is a grimy exploitation comedy shakedown flick with a real DIY kinetic energy like no other. Italian-Americans Paul (Duke Mitchell) and his gangster crew have just been released from prison and plan to kidnap the pope, asking for a ransom of one dollar for every catholic in the world. That's just the main premise which then allows Mitchell to display some cinematic batshit crazy shenanigans. We get a whole lot of Las Vegas and some of their musical and comedy performers of the time or are these people just Mitchell's showbiz friends from Palm Springs? There's cheesy romance, operatic violence, bizarre sex scenes, anti catholic rants, miracles and a whole lotta wrong. Look out for the total What The Fuck? moment of Paul picking up a morbidly obese lady who was walking her dog in the park. He then takes her back to his hotel where he undresses her and puts her into the bed of his passed out drunk gangster colleague. While Gone With The Pope was filmed in 1975 it remained unfinished, lost and unreleased. Duke Mitchell the barmy auteur, producer, singer and lead actor died in 1981. Lucky for us, or perhaps unlucky depending how you look at it, Academy award winning editor Bob Murawski rescued the film which eventually got its first cinema screening in 2010. Get a look inside a confusing outsider's mind here.


Arizona Raiders (1965)
This was the last film featured on The Swinging 60s series on the SBS World Movies channel. QT wasn't wrong when he said "Hang in there coz it has a crazy beginning." and yes it had a stupid prologue. The first 15 to 20 minutes were totally gruelling and pointless. When it got to the core of the western crime story though it really picked up and was fantastic. Audie Murphy is brilliant as Clint and Ben Cooper is good too as Willie his partner in crime. Arizona Raiders also stars the intriguing Gloria Talbot. Anyway Clint has a whole lotta of moral grey area and he keeps you guessing as to which side his true loyalties lie throughout the movie. We get some crazy violence including the unique and brutal Indian cactus torture which all takes place amongst amazingly picturesque landscapes.

Deadly Eyes aka Night Eyes (1982)
I think my expectations were way too high for this disappointing when animals attack flick. For some reason I was expecting this to be of the same high calibre as Alligator (1980) or Piranha (1978). It starts out pretty promising with a baby being the first victim of giant killer rats followed by an elderly man. It had me thinking this is going to be great, nobody is safe and the rat caused carnage with its low budget crappy 80s gore is going to be high. Then it starts to sag with too much time spent on sub plots and a slowing down of the rat attacks. The last fifteen minutes are pretty good though but that doesn't make up for the loss of interest that occurred in the middle of the film. I said to Emma after one of the first attacks that I think this is the rat movie where dogs are dressed up in rat costumes. She didn't believe me so being in the i-phone age she looked it up to not only find out it was true but that one pup had died due to suffocation. As septic tanks like to say that was a total "buzz kill" man. For the second half of the movie I couldn't get that cruelty out of my mind but it was a below average movie anyway.


Easy Rider (1969)
Peter Fonda as Wyatt and Dennis Hopper as Billy are the doomed hippie bikers in a film that's totally nihilistic man (It could be argued in a philosophical debate that it's pessimistic or perhaps cynical though). When I was introduced to Easy Rider as a teenager as part of that whole "anti establishment" right of passage thing that also included Rebel Without A Cause and books like On The Road, Catcher In The Rye blah blah blah. Easy Rider just didn't float my boat because our generation had its own fucked up and culturally significant films like Dogs in Space (1986) and Blue Velvet (1986). We didn't need hand me downs from an ancient and irrelevant era. Now I can see the film for what it is, a low budget but pretty crappy film that made a shitload of money. A cash in on the counter-culture made by Hollywood insiders not true outsiders or outlaws. Easy Rider is a significant cultural document though that was one of a handful of movies that were signposts that a new era in American film had arrived. I liked the rest of that handful ie. the good films like Bonnie & Clyde, The Trip, Psych-Out, Head, Midnight Cowboy etc.


A Decade Under The Influence: The 70s Films That Changed Everything (2003)
You know how the book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is shit but what they're talking about isn't? Well here's a documentary that's not too bad about one of my favourite film subjects: New Hollywood motion pictures of the late 60s and 70s. A good half hour could have been spent on one man American film revolution John Cassavetes. I mean that's where they got the title of the film from. I would have liked to have seen Monte Hellman, Elaine May & Gena Rowlands (The world's greatest living actress) interviewed. About twenty five of the best pictures of this era aren't even mentioned but of course you can never cover everything in a short doc. I've only just realised this was actually produced as a three part telly series before it was abridged to this 108 minute version which i bought back when it was first issued. There are like three or four other versions of A Decade Under The Influence all with varying lengths so I'm guessing this isn't the definitive version or the most comprehensive. 


Walking The Edge (1985?)
I think I've written about this before but I just wanted to watch it again after viewing The Wrecking Crew (1969) which featured Nancy Quan. Watching legends like Joe Spinell and Robert Forster is always a treat too. Walking The Edge is a strange tale of murder and revenge in scuzzy 80s LA, that's damn fine entertainment. Christine (Nancy Quan) hires a downbeat cab driver (Robert Forster) for her journey to seek vengeance on Brusstar (Joe Spinell) and his goons as they annihilated her family. Also featured is a punk club and band which really seems much earlier than 1985. This flick may have been released in 1985 but I think it was made much earlier. It may have sat on the shelf for a couple of years and I'm not the first human to speculate about this. I feel like Robert Forster should have been in a hundred cool films instead of just a few. This film is going into The Space Debris Hall of Fame.

The Last Detail (1973)
Due to watching the aforementioned documentary A Decade Under The Influence (2003) I finally bit the bullet and decided to watch this. I've always avoided The Last Detail for a few reasons. A: It's directed by Hal Ashby who's hardly my favourite director. B: I'm not really into military dude films. C: It just sounded like it was going to be dull. Guess what I was right, this was just fucking dull. One of the least compelling, kinda hokey and boring films I've seen and hey I like films made by Tarkovsky, Roeg and Kubrick so go figure. We also get one of Jack Nicholson's most tedious performances. Actually I can't believe I watched it to the very end. Don't waste your time here but you probably already have though because you're into Harold & Maude (1971).