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. 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


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, helicopter stunts 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. 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).

Friday, 16 August 2019

More On Movies XIX


Heat (1986)
Not the 90s nonsense from Michael Mann. This is the 80s film Heat that had something like six different directors. I was expecting a pretty messy generic crime movie with a past his prime Burt Reynolds but to my total surprise this was an excellent film. William Goldman wrote the screenplay but there was a hell of a lot of drama off camera so the fact that this film is any good at all let alone a flawed classic is a miracle. I think Heat might have been a massive flop at the box office only gaining a following once it hit the video shop shelves. Nick Escalante (Burt Reynolds) is an ex-military bodyguard for high rollers who visit Las Vegas. Nick is hired by Cyrus Kinnick (Peter MacNicol) so the duo hit the casinos. Nick's sex worker friend Holly (Karen Young) is abused by a sadistic gangster so now Nick has vengeance on his mind too. The emotion of this film is insidious while you're thinking "mmm I dunno about this..." all of a sudden you're hooked and all previous negative notions are gone. Then the gambling scene begins where you think Nick is just mucking around with his card dealing friend Cassie (Diana Scarwid) but then it turn's out to be an amazing central set-piece and by the scene's conclusion it'll hit you right in the stomach. Shenanigans ensue but will Nick be able to get out of Vegas before it destroys him?

Mona Lisa (1986)
Haven't seen this since the 80s. Fuck the British don't half know how to do grim do they? Bob Hoskins is brilliant here as the thug with a heart of gold as is Cathy Tyson, the hooker with a heart of gold. Michael Cane is particularly vile as miscreant Mortwell. Mona Lisa paints a very grisly portrait of the underworld of sex work. There are some amazing scenes at Brighton Beach. I remember this was quite a cult film in the 80s and was still screening at some places well into the 90s but that seems to have faded away but there's no reason why it should have. Bleak, brilliant and gripping crime drama. Highly recommended.

Alison's Birthday (1981)
Aussie satanic horror that turned out to be not too bad. Sort of Rosemary's Baby meets Freaky Friday in a Sydney backyard with a replica stonehenge. Loved the soundtrack, very hauntological.

Massacre Mafia Style aka The Executioner aka Like Father Like Son (1974)
When this got issued on blu-ray four years ago it was a total revelation. Apparently it was a big VHS success but I don't recall seeing it on the shelves at all. Maybe it was one of the alternate titles in Australia. It's been called the B-grade Godfather but I reckon it's better than that. If you love your mafia movies and tv, it's going to be hard not to be seduced by this lost slice of 70s celluloid. "You're in...or you're in the way." There are so many iconic scenes, classic snatches of dialogue, just plain barmy earnestness and loaves of bread here. If you've never seen it, Massacre Mafia Style may just become your new favourite film.

The Naked Spur (1953)
Pretty good Western directed by Anthony Mann. Howard Kemp (Jimmy Stewart) is a bit of an unhinged sheriff a long way outside of his territory looking for cop killer Ben Vandergoat (Robert Ryan). He runs into drifting gold prospector Jesse Tate (Millard Mitchell) and ex-Union soldier Roy Anderson (Ralph Meeker) so he teams up with them to track down Vandergoat and his lover Lena Patch (Janet Leigh). But this is no easy task. Who can and can't be trusted? All will be revealed in due course. The much darker and intense post-war Stewart continues to reveal himself here.

Family Plot (1976)
This has been one of my favourite Hitchcock movies ever since I saw it late one night as a teenager, probably presented by John Hinde on the ABC. Family Plot is a goofy crime comedy that is a whole lotta entertaining fun. The four main actors are brilliant. Fran (Karen Black) and Arthur (William Devane) are a smooth criminal couple who are involved in some serious kidnapping and robbery. Blanche (Barbara Harris) is a phoney psychic while her boyfriend George (Bruce Dern) drives a cab. The two couples intersect after Blanche is given the task of tracking down an heir for her client Julia (Kathleen Nesbitt) for the princely sum of ten thousand dollars. There is much mystery to solved, scams, stunts and deceit in tracking down Edward Shoebridge the heir to a massive fortune. This story unfolds perfectly and rarely misses a beat. Family Plot is the most delightful of Alfred Hitchcock movies.

Piranha (1978)
Scary classic about man eating mutant military fish that are accidentally released into the river system causing havoc and carnage amongst summer campers and swimmers at the local lake resort. Also a weird lizard/dinosaur thing in the secret government laboratory is seen only by you the viewer and is never explained, which is an exquisite touch. Who knows? I might eventually become a Joe Dante fan. I mean he's such a likeable and knowledgable guy. I love his podcast Movies That Made Me and his website Trailers From Hell, its just his films I don't much dig, but hey here's one I enjoyed immensely. Maybe I'll give Innerspace, The Burbs or Matinee another go as it's been over 25 years since I set my eyeballs on those. Maybe not though as I also recently watched Homecoming (2005) an hour long episode of Masters Of Horror that he directed. It was so tedious I wanted to smash the telly in and tear out my eyeballs due to the unsubtle and repetitive political message he was making.

Malone (1987)
Burt Reynolds steps into Charles Bronson revenge territory here and it totally suits him. Wicked story of an ex-CIA dude who has changed his name to Malone to try and disappear from his past and change his old ways but he inadvertently uncovers a sinister conspiracy in a picturesque small town. It's unlikely Malone will be able to leave this alone without consequences for these heinous culprits. Meanwhile the CIA are closing in on Malone with nefarious plans of their own. Revenge and vigilante movies are just Westerns with cars replacing horses aren't they? The pacing here is just spot on. We get some sensational action sequences including explosions in bucolic landscapes. Oh I nearly forgot this piece of eye candy: A ye olde gas station is filmed in an incredibly scenic part of the Pacific North-West countryside in America. Nice.

Ronin (1998)
Great crime action movie. Bob De Niro is in full smart-arse tough criminal mode here and it's all worth it just for that. John Frankenheimer was almost 70 when he directed Ronin, one of his best pictures, disproving my theory that all directors should be shot once they reach the age of 50. This is one of his 5 best pictures in my eyes. Ronin is pretty much action packed excitement all the way as a strange array of gangsters try to steal a much valued mysterious case from another team of gangsters. The car chases through the highly populated and tiny French streets are some of the most breathtaking in film history. Alright maybe it's half a star from a masterpiece but then maybe Psycho and The Godfather are also half a star away as well. What I mean is there is a snippet of dodgy acting from James Caan at one point in The Godfather and in Psycho there really was no need for the epilogue sequence explaining the psychological condition of Norman Bates. So in Ronin they could have gotten rid of all the pretentious Samurai bullshit including the opening written explanation of what a Ronin is, the bullet removal scene and the entire character of Jean Pierre (Michel Lonsdale) who's the nerdy samurai miniature model maker and "oh so philosophical" sage. Sometimes I wonder If there are really any perfect films, there's always something a little off somewhere. Anyway does this classic flick turn up in stupid canonical lists? If it doesn't ask yourself what is the relevance of this list and why am I reading it?

Deadly Hero (1975)
Why this film isn't as famous as Taxi Driver astonishes me...well maybe not that much as it's got a somewhat misleading and terrible title. The marketing is bad and I mean shite ie. The poster is just plain awful and there are no iconic photographs of the film to be found anywhere. Deadly Hero is so similar to Taxi Driver though it's almost like Paul Schrader cribbed all these themes and ideas and put them in his script but his script had been circulating since 1972 so...I guess I'll put it down to coincidence, something in the air perhaps or maybe it was the other way around. Sally (Diahn Williams) a conductor/music teacher/cellist  is menaced by Rabbit (James Earl Jones) a bizzare burley black man. Rabbit is subsequently killed by Lacy (Don Murray) a zealous cop who becomes more and more unhinged throughout the film. Deadly Hero's a fantastic story paired with a wonderful ensemble cast. The filmmakers capture mid 70s New York splendidly on celluloid. This is probably the best 70s American film you don't know unless you do know it that is.

Remember My Name (1978)
You will not forget this movie in a hurry. This was the last great performance I discovered in my Anthony Perkins investigation of a few years back because after this I watched Psycho 2 & 3 and despite what some film buffs think those are pretty shite films. So I discovered four outright post-Psycho classics starring Perkins: Five Miles To Midnight, Pretty Poison, Play It As Lays and this unheralded 70s classic. Perhaps I'll continue looking into his oeuvre again soon. Anyway check out this poster, you would think it's a Robert Altman film wouldn't you? I mean they call it one but he's only a producer. Talk about living in someone else's shadow. Alan Rudolph who was Altman's former assistant directed this forgotten 70s crime gem. Rudolph never really shook off the Altman connection as he was also very stylistically indebted to him. A psychotic woman Emily (Geraldine Chaplin) is stalking a married couple Neil (Anthony Perkins) and Barbara Curry (Berry Berenson) and just generally menacing anyone who crosses her path. Everything is revealed in due course, unexpected scenarios occur and this flick never really misses a beat. It's best to watch this film with no more plot information than that. The cast are all brilliant. Geraldine Chaplin is genuinely terrifying as the mental Emily and Jeff Goldblum is terrific as her boss. More crazy women films please. Remember My Name is probably the other best 70s film you don't know unless of course you do know.

Deep Cover (1992)
In the 90s it felt like there was an excellent new movie every week and at least one masterpiece every month. While I haven't been able to sit through Reservoir Dogs or Clerks recently because I've thought they were so shite and totally dated in a bad way there are other 90s films that have aged like a 71 Grange Hermitage. Deep Cover sits in this elevated position. It's one of the 5 best crime films of the 90s in my book. It's very 1992 but in the best way possible. Policeman Russell Stevens (Larry Fishburne) is asked to go deep undercover, to expose an international drug ring, by DEA agent Gerald Carver (Charles Martin Smith). Whilst living amongst the drug underworld judgment gets a bit blurry for Stevens and he becomes somewhat morally ambiguous. Has he gone rogue? This should have won an oscar for best script as the dialogue here is just perfection. It was co-written by Michael Tolken the man responsible for the book and screenplay of The Player (1992). We get great performances from a wonderful ensemble cast with a special mention going to Jeff Goldblum who is Russell's degenerate drug dealing partner and lawyer David Jason but everybody is outstanding here. Deep Cover was directed by Bill Duke who was last seen acting in Mandy (2018) as the character Caruthers, the huge black dude in the caravan who sells Nic Cage weapons. Highly recommended.

Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man (1991)
Damn! I was on such a roll with the quality of the previous 13 films in this post until I decided to watch this. It's not all bad though. There is some pretty amazing OTT 80s action here and the plot's not half bad. I know it says 1991 but it's still an 80s movie. There is some kind of self awareness in the script of how moronic this movie and its characters are but does that get the filmmakers off the hook? Buddies Marlboro Man (Don Johnson) and Harley Davidson (Mickey Rourke) need a whole lotta cash to save their favourite bar (a ghastly looking place) from closing down. They plan an armoured car heist but guess what? It all goes wrong. This flick is a curiosity for an early performance from Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad's Gus Fring), some of the worst fashion in the history of film and quite possibly the worst music ever used on a soundtrack.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
It's no secret I've been off Quentin Tarantino and sometimes loathing him and his cinematic output since his one true masterpiece Jackie Brown so I was totally expecting this flick to be no great shakes. I thought I was going to be fairly ambivalent about it but to my absolute surprise it was a really good costume drama. I love the period detail which is pretty fucking impeccable. If Paul Thomas Anderson can do it with There Will Be Blood (2007) & Boogie Nights (1997) and Martin Scorsese with The Age Of Innocence (1993) & Casino (1995) why isn't Tarantino allowed do it? I mean wasn't every single Western a period piece/costume drama? Brad Pitt is fantastic and getting old is suiting him darn well. Emma said "He's like a better looking version of Robert Redford, if that's possible?" He steals the show for sure which is pretty incredible as he's up against a Leo DiCaprio performance for the ages. DiCaprio has to do that double acting thing where his character is an actor so he has to do that character doing acting, know what I mean? Tricky actoring shit! Margaret Qualley is terrific as Pussycat as is Lena Dunham in her short appearance as Gypsy and Dakota Fanning is frightening as Squeaky. Don't go in expecting a Manson family biopic. This is sort of an art film character study that's basically a day or three in the life of actor Rick Dalton (Leo DiCaprio) and his stunt double/gofer Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in/and 1969 Los Angeles. Look out for spectacular homage to Don't Go In The House (1979). Over and above everything else this is Brandy's movie, that's Cliff Booth's dog! Once Upon A Time... is on several occasions unexpectedly touching and emotional. I can't say much more than that without spoiling it and it's probably best to know as little as possible before going into the cinema. Foot fetishists needn't worry as many feet feature prominently throughout, Tarantino at his most feet-y. I'm reserving judgement until I've seen it seven times and sure I know it's flawed (they overdid the jump-cuts a lot, the clunky Steve McQueen exposition of the Sebring/Tate/Polanski nexus was unnecessary etc.) but I think it's the best thing Tarantino's done since Jackie Brown.

Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice (1969)
Well I guess a lot of people watched this recently as part of the Quentin Tarantino presents The Swinging Sixties series which is now about halfway through. This series includes nine movies from the Columbia Pictures vaults presented by QT & American film critic Kim Morgan on the SBS World Movies channel. This movie is the kind of thing I loved when I was a teen and in my early 20s because it was "Oh so interesting, adult and kitsch." Now it just makes me feel a whole lot of awkward and quite depressed. Some of this stuff is too close to adult bones and a lot of it is just embarrassing. You have to watch it at least once though for historical purposes and because it's quite good. Bob and Carol go to some kind of new age openness and honesty therapy retreat for a weekend and come back to LA with their lives changed. They try to convince their uptight best friends Ted and Alice how good it was, which ultimately leads to the suggestion of the foursome having an orgy. Worth watching for Elliot Gould's stoned dancing which is quite possibly the most unfunky dancing ever put on celluloid. It's quite funny at the start and you think Gould is just going to be a brilliantly hilarious smart arse for the rest of the flick but then it all goes serious adult drama. The cast are all fabulous though, Natalie Wood wears a bikini, Dyan Cannon is fantastic as the rigid Alice Henderson trying hard to shake off her hang ups to keep up with the times, the script is excellent, Elliot Gould shows off his hairy back, Robert Culp plays the disingenuous but handsome Bob Sanders and upwardly mobile 1969 is captured impeccably on film.

Sorority House Massacre (1986)
As far as Halloween (1978) rip offs go you're either in or you're out but this is a pretty good one and it'll keep you entertained for a swift 74 minutes. I thought I'd seen this before but I hadn't. There are a hell of a lot of slashers out there with very similar titles. I would say this is better than House On Sorority Row (1982) which is what I must have been confusing it with. It starts off a bit slow but by a third of the way through it really picks up steam. The 1986 era is a problem hair and fashion wise. The slashers from 78-82 had great hair and clothes but this a nadir as far as all that is concerned. Also all the girls boyfriends are such gormless dorks. Actually most of the chicks are not cool either. However there is boobage plus a naked dude. This is as generic as it comes. The most outstanding element of Sorority House Massacre is that it contains one of the great post-Halloween soundtracks. I've never even heard of composer Michael Wetherwax and I can't believe one of these horror soundtrack reissue labels has not rediscovered this hidden treasure.

Friday The 13th: Part IV - The Final Chapter (1984?)
I used to think this was alright along with the first three but tonight it just annoyed the hell out of me but hey, I'm trying to give up smoking so perhaps I hate everything right now or is it just my appetite for infantile gory fun? However you can't go past a bit of Crispin Glover dancing which is a sight to behold. Then again you can probably just find that clip on youtube.

Cactus Flower (1969)
Never seen this film which was based on an American play which was based on a French play. It was part of the QT presents The Swinging 60s series so I thought why not? Cactus Flower is a complicated sex farce. I haven't enjoyed a romantic comedy since I last watched Annie Hall (1977) five or six years ago. I can't watch anything from the genre made in the last 20 years at least because those films are all full of unlikeable and unfunny characters. So Cactus Flower was an absolute delight. As Kim Morgan points out Ingrid Bergman steals the show as dental nurse Stephanie. She achieves this with great comic timing, poignancy and dancing. Goldie Hawn and Walter Matthau are comic gold too as lovers Toni and Julian. Jack Weston as Harvey Greenfield is brilliant and got totally overlooked in awards nominations of the day. It's topped off nicely with the very classy soundz of maestro Quincy Jones. Has to be seen.

Dream Lover (1994)
I don't even think I remember the video cover for this and I can't believe I didn't watch it on the first day it was released. I mean it's stars Shelley Fucking Johnson (Mädchen Amick) from Twin Peaks. I could watch her doing nothing for two or maybe seven hours. Plus peak creepy James Spader! Anyway I found it on Stan and to my absolute surprise it was a top notch erotic thriller, like one of the best films of the 90s. This outdoes all the other Hitchcock acolytes at their own game. I recommend.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Movies - August

Burnt offerings (1976)
A very underrated haunted house movie. I reckon it's top five in the sub-genre. An extended family of four which includes Ben (Oliver Reed) & Marian (Karen Black) who are husband & wife move into a mansion for a summer with their 12 year old son and their elderly Aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis). The only catch is they have to share the massive dwelling with the reclusive old lady who owns the place. She'll be holed up in her room and wont be around so long as they leave her 3 meals a day outside her door. I hear you saying 'Who the fuck would do that?' This is a 70s slow burner but immensely enjoyable with a great climax.

When A Stranger Calls Back (1993)
A classic telly movie from the 90s that's a precursor to Scream et alsans the fun. This 1993 "Have you checked the children" sequel is a really fascinating Showtime telly movie that deserves your attention. Julia (Jill Sholean) is menaced by a stalker whilst on a baby sitting job and just manages to survive. Five years later Julia is in college where she believes the same stalker is on her trail. Carol Kane and Charles Durning return as Jill and John their characters from the original When A Stranger Calls (1979)When A Stranger Calls Back is pretty harrowing and disturbing stuff. You can't help but think if it had been released theatrically that it would have been a pop culture phenomena. 

Coogan's Bluff (1968)
A small town sheriff from Arizona Coogan (Clint Eastwood) hits the big apple to extradite a prisoner and finds himself in all kinds of strife. First of all the prisoner is in a psych hospital after tripping badly on LSD, then Coogan is knocked out, has his gun stolen, there's prostitutes, spaghetti, a great scene in a funky psychedelic discotheque, a good motorbike chase scene etc. Probably not Donny Siegel's best movie but it's a pretty entraining lil action thriller. I think the problem lies with Coogan. I don't mind morally ambiguous protagonists, its just that I have to like them a little bit. I mean, quite often I like the villains especially if they're particularly vile degenerates. Coogan is some kind of cad who thinks he's a lady's man but his overconfidence is just off putting. Maybe I just don't dig Clint Eastwood. I mean apart from his good looks, what else does he have to offer? I don't find him charismatic or charming and his acting is a bit one note innit? I can't like every actor. Actually I'm surprised I don't hate more of them. I like ye olde popular legends like Humphrey Bogart, Carey Grant, Robert Mitchum, Jimmy Stewart, Burt Lancaster, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Walter Matthau, Dustin Hoffman, Elliot Gould, Gene Hackman et al. but I just don't dig Eastwood that much. Kinda like I don't dig more recent actors like George Clooney and Vince Vaughn. Give me Burt Reynolds any day.

Tower Of Evil aka Horror On Snape Island aka Beyond The Fog (1972) 
Wow, I stumbled across this on youtube. Why has nobody ever alerted me to this absurd movie? More 70s British horror, perhaps not of the the usual gold standard though. This one is a bit more on the campy side of the genre. A bunch of scientists visit the remote and supposedly uninhabited Snape Island to investigate a series of recent deaths. Once they reach the Island things start to get eerie and go awry. The tone here is weird going from sharp dialogue laced with much sexual innuendo to spooky scares and very unconvincing kills. For 70s British horror completists and proto-slasher enthusiasts. Quite the curio.

The Mad Bomber aka The Police Connection (1973)
Quentin Tarantino alerted me to this classic demented 70s exploitation flick on a recent episode of the Pure Cinema Podcast. The Mad Bomber is really enjoyable with a great soundtrack and a mental plot. This is sleazy to the max. The police have to track down a rapist in order to find a mass murdering bomber. We know who the bomber is right from the beginning and he's got that funny/grumpy thing going on which is very entertaining and makes him likeable. Look out for sensational photo-fit sequence where they nail the bomber's id right down to his spitting image. I recommend.

The Meg (2018)
I was excited to sit down and watch a good ole (new) shark movie. We got 20 minutes in and fuck me this was the worst lowest common denominator hollywood shite with some of the worst dialogue and acting witnessed since Twister (1996). Maybe kids will dig it.

Phantom Thread (2017)
I finally got around to watching the final acting performance of Daniel Day Lewis. I was glued to the screen for two hours. Lewis plays a very strange man Reynolds Woodcock who makes dresses for the well to do. He finds a muse in Alma (Vicky Krieps). A peculiar relationship triangle develops from there between Reynolds, his meddling sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) and Alma. I would say they are all pretty mental and the situation just gets more and more abnormal. I'm not sure why it was so compelling and I'm not sure about the ending. I do know it was a beautifully put together movie with a fabulous script and visually stunning cinematography. Watching Daniel Day Lewis for 2 hours is a joy no matter what he does. Phantom Thread would would be nowhere without the brilliance of Lesley Manville though, who I believe is the dramatic heart of this film. The the ending though...

CC & Company (1970)
Not a bad lil biker movie. This film is worth watching for the opening scene alone where CC Ryder (Joe Namath) makes a sandwich inside the supermarket, eats it, helps himself to a drink, then puts all his groceries from his trolley back on the shelves and leaves the shop spending just 10 cents on some gum. This reminded me of being young and just eating whatever in the supermarket whilst doing the shopping. Anne McCalley (Anne Margaret) gets hassled by two rapey bikers but their fellow gang member CC comes to her aid. Mucho soundtrack goodness, motor cross races, kidnapping, punch ups, fashion shoots, crazy dancing, Wayne Cochrane getting funky's got the lot. The climactic scene is pretty fucking insane and well worth the wait.

The Walking Hills (1949)
A good border town Western directed by John Sturges. A complicated motley crew of criminals, cowboys, coppers, ex-lovers, drifters and even a bar tender head into the sand dunes of Death Valley in search of Five million dollars worth of mythological gold. The best part of this film is the inclusion of the incredible Josh White who contributes a number of songs in his wonderful distinctive style of country blues. I've seen a few Westerns from the 40s and 50s and he is a rare example of an African American starring in the genre. If only more westerns had blues singers and soundtracks, the film landscape could have had a whole other reality.

Gunman's Walk (1958)
Classic Western directed by Phil Karlson starring Tab Hunter, Kathryn Crosby and Van Heflin. Fifteen minutes in I was thinking 'I'm not really into westerns about rustling cattle and horses' but lucky for me Gunman's Walk soon took a dark path. There are some sensational and dangerous stunts done here on horses that are as good as any 70s car chase. Holy shit this is another fine discovery and contender for best Western. They sure knew how to make make a good movie back in the day. You know what else? They knew how to end a film too. 90 mins of Americana pop culture perfection.

Blood On The Moon (1948)
Noir Western of the highest order. A Feud causes much double crossing, bad romance, shoot outs, a violent cattle stampede and a siege. Young Bob Mitchum stars.

High Noon (1952)
Sheriff Will Kane (Gary Cooper) & Amy Fowler (Princess Grace) get married and are set to leave town and start afresh in another town but Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) a con Kane sent to prison is set to arrive in town on the midday train to exact vengeance. What will Kane do? Is this a little overrated? I mean it's good, I like it and the cinematography is cool but number 1 or 2 in best Westerns of all time...I don't think so.

Sweet Kill aka A Kiss From Eddie aka The Arousers (1972)
Totally unusual exploitation movie that I can't believe isn't a massive cult it is, I don't have the stats on what is or what isn't a cult film.  Eddie Collins (Tab Hunter) is in a downward spiral as he can't perform with the attractive women he cavorts with. When he accidentally kills a woman his spiral gets even darker. Brilliant minimal soundtrack from Charles Bernstein. Written and directed by the enigmatic Curtis Hanson, the man responsible for writing my favourite 1978 movie The Silent Partner and directing the 90s thriller The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. I recommend

John Wick (2014)
I really wanted to like it. Killing a dog that I fell in love with then making a movie that looks like a video game about the revenge is not that good as far as I can see. I'd rather have just watched two hours of that puppy sans death or Keanu.

Model Shop (1969)
Strange film. I know I've talked about this before but ever since I discovered it over a year ago thanks to Twilight Time, I just keep wanting to watch it. Model Shop is directed by legendary French director Jaques Demy. This is s french existential drama set in the 60s streets of LA. The thing is the film title is pretty misleading, this is not a film about a model shop. The model shop is just one incidental part of the film. Model Shop is about the highly educated but directionless and broke twenty something George Mathews (Gary Lockwood) who faces being drafted into the US army to go and fight in Vietnam. The film then unravels from there. Totally worth watching for the late 60s LA time capsule. Includes soundtrack and cameo from cult LA rock band Spirit. Check out the threads, the interior design, the hair, the streets, the cars and the melancholy philosophical vibe man.

Possible Worlds (2000)
This movie was mentioned somewhere the other day online so I dug out the dvd and well what a weird flick it is. It's in in my sweet spot of somewhere between Cronenberg & Lynch but maybe just falling short of the brilliance of those two legends, then again maybe not. Well if you hate the Davids you will most definitely hate this, but if you keep an open mind you might just enjoy it and see a unique cinematic voice emerging. Director Robert Lepage is an interesting artistic specimen of the Renaissance kind. He's better known for avant-garde theatre, multi-media, Shakespeare and opera productions than his forays into the world of directing movies. Tilda Swinton stars with Tom McCamus in this mysterious movie about parallel zones, serial killings and brains living in jars. Do not expect a linear narrative, you might not fully get it but it's fucking fascinating. The sort of movie to become obsessed with...well I watched it three times this week. Was it different each time?

The Wrecking Crew (1969)
A kitsch action crime comedy in the faux James Bond style. While it's not half as clever or funny as an episode of Get Smart, it works quite well as an action flick. The action really ramps up to exciting levels towards the end. It is directed by the unsung but legendary Phil Karlson who was no slouch with noir and western gems such as Scandal Sheet (1952) Kansas City Confidential (1952), 99 River Street (1953) Tight Spot (1955), 5 Against The House (1955), The Phenix City Story (1955), The Brothers Rico (1957) and Gunman's Walk (1958) amongst many others already under his belt. The Wrecking Crew is hardly in the league of those aforementioned movies though. This 1969 flick stars Dean Martin as spy Matt Helm for the fourth and final time along with iconic ladies Sharon Tate, Nancy Quan, Elke Sommer and Tina Louise. There's a great soundtrack from Hugo Montenegro featuring heaps of easy soundz, fuzz and crime jazz. Not to mention the fantastic but racially insensitive opening tune by Mack David Devol which has to be heard to be believed, it's so darn catchy though, just don't get caught singing it around your Asian friends.

Hollywood Man (1976)
A biker movie about making biker movies. Although Hollywood Man is very rough around the edges it doesn't miss a beat. This is demented exploitation cinema but it's compelling from start to to finish. Film maker Rafe Staker (William Smith) is told biker films are old hat by his usual producer so Rafe ends up going to the mafia for financing instead. Suffice to say this isn't the greatest move as all hell soon breaks loose with bad weather, bad cops, bad bikers, bad mafia and ultimately bad collateral damage. Directed by Jack Starrett who also helmed the classics Cleopatra Jones (1973), The Dion Brothers aka The Gravy Train (1974) and Race With The Devil (1975) amongst others. Well worth a look.