Formerly "Dave's Blog About Movies and Such"

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trailer Time: Coffy (1973)

dir. Jack Hill

OK, there's no real reason to post this. It exhibits no extremes I usually look for in the trailers I post: neither exceptionally artistic nor agonizingly dreadful; neither enigmatic nor overly spoilery—this is just a clip show, showcasing the best action and dialogue. I guess I've just got Pam Grier on the brain lately. I also just love the hell out of Coffy, easily the best Grier/Hill collaboration. If you haven't seen Coffy yet, do yourself a favor and watch this movie.

[The trailer:]

Friday, March 30, 2012

Awesome Movie Scenes: Jackie Brown (1997) - AK-47

dir. Quentin Tarantino

I don't care what anyone says, Jackie Brown is Tarantino's best picture. It is also, coincidentally, one of the last movies to feature a not-phoning-it-in De Niro performance. Playing against type as a dim-witted, low-key, low-rent criminal, De Niro stuns with his subtlety. And he sets the tone immediately with his introductory scene.

Now this scene is rightly known for Samuel L. Jackson's powerhouse soliloquy on firearms. And though Jackson's performance here—as in the rest of the movie—is riveting, De Niro's understated performance tends to suck me in. I love how comfortable he is with fading into the scenery, with not controlling the scene. Aided by only a few lines of dialogue, De Niro's performance consists mostly of facial expressions and body language. Slumped back in the couch, he resembles a stoned friend you brought over to play Xbox (that's what the kids are doing nowadays, right?), rather than an ex-con recruited for criminal shenanigans.

Note also, De Niro's expresion when Tarantino works out his foot fetish proclivities via Bridget Fonda's playful toe-tap of De Niro's scotch glass. De Niro is unsure how to react to Bridget's playfulness. His subtle expression could signify intrigue, caution or disgust. Or maybe all three. With his eyes, De Niro asks, "Is she flirting? Do I want a goddamn toe near my drink? Fuck it; I'll just quickly take my drink away."

Sure some could claim De Niro was merely phoning it in here. How hard's it gotta be to sit on a couch and pretend to be interested in some speech about guns, while drinking from a toe-touched glass? Now I ain't no actor, but I'd imagine it takes a lot of effort to believably feign such little effort.

[Unfortunately, this youtube clip doesn't contain the entire scene, but it contains enough for you to get the gist.]

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trailer Time: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

dir. Michel Gondry

Whenever I go through a breakup, like most any other disgustingly self-pitying person, I'll try to make myself feel worse: sad songs usually get the job done. Certainly ain't nothing like a good cry. What is it about feeling worse that feels better?

One thing, however, that I've always attempted but have never been able to put myself through post-breakup is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. When this movie first came out, I saw it at least five times. I couldn't get enough of it. I reveled in the typically clever Charlie Kaufman plot, biting humor, whimsical effects, and—what I assumed must have been—realistic depiction of the many stages of a relationship. You see, up until that point, I had no way of knowing what a relationship would entail because I was what you'd call a late bloomer.

When I finally did experience love and loss, when I first tried to console my heartache with sad songs (nature's onions) and other such nonsense, I thought, well I gotta watch Eternal Sunshine; that'll really get the waterworks flowing. On the way from the shelf to the DVD player, however, I started remembering the movie; I started relating it to my life. I realized just how incisive was its portrayal of a doomed relationship. Everything was so pitch perfect: the inital flutters, the falling for each other, the becoming overly familiar, the settling into a routine, the ensuing ennui, the loss of passion and eventual detachment. And finally, the end. (All in reverse, of course—because Kaufman, as I stated before, clever.)

I paused.

Did I really wanna do this? Yeah, there's having a good cry, and then there's needlessly putting myself through the ringer. I put it off. I'll watch it another time, I thought. And so, with successive breakups I would go through the same routine, and never would I have the guts to put myself through this film.

I'm sure Eternal Sunshine is still a great movie. I just don't know when I'll watch it again.

Oh yeah, as for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind's trailer—you know, the ostensible reason I posted this piece—it's real durn good. I can't embed it but you can watch it here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Birdemic Movie Night: April 15

Hey all, it's time yet again for another one of my can't-be-missed movie nights at The Way Station in Brooklyn. If you have yet to visit this awesomely nerdy bar, please do yourself a favor and check it out immediately, whether or not you plan to come to my movie night—but really, check out my movie night.

I should note that, although I usually host a double feature, I realized that the movie I chose for April 15 will need the night to itself. Now I don't plan to do single features from now on, but this movie is so powerful that I knew nothing would be able to follow it. So why try? And just what will this impressive feature be?


That's right, quite possibly the best bad movie (yes, I've thrown down the gauntlet; Troll 2 and The Room fans, have at me): a movie so inept in every way possible (writing, casting, acting, cinematography, direction, editing, sound design, sound editing, special effects) that it is also one of the most entertaining pictures you're likely to see. That is, if you do it right: lots of drinkin' and witty joke-making. As with all movie nights, I'm looking for an MST3K vibe, which won't be hard with Birdemic. If you can't produce witticisms to lob at Birdemic,'ve failed as a person.

Movie Night Date: Sunday, April 15
Start Time: PM
Location: 683 Washington Ave (between St. Marks and Prospect Place)
Requirements: As always, bring your appetite for Sunday night drinking.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
dir. James Nguyen
Length: 90 minutes
Start Time: PM

What can be said about Birdemic that Andrew Sarris hasn't already stated more eloquently about Citizen Kane? Birdemic is the Holy Grail of bad movies I had always sought but long thought a myth. So imperfect, so inept (hell, there's even a typo in the opening credits), and, most importantly, so sincere, James Nguyen's film is a testament to heights one man can achieve when armed only with a camera, a dream, and no talent. It's one thing to make a bad movie; it's another thing altogether to believe so wholeheartedly in your creation that logic and craftsmanship are but hindrances to the achievement of your vision. There are bad movies and there are bad movies. And then there's Birdemic.

[The trailer:]

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Benji (1974)

dir. Joe Camp

"I Feel Love (Benji theme)" - Charlie Rich

I couldn't embed this video but you can listen to it on youtube.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 36 - Deep Space

dir. Fred Olen Ray

Roger Snead and I discuss our love for Charles Napier, and our disappointment with his movie Deep Space. Alien knock-offs rarely get knock-offier than this buddy cop take on the subject. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cul-de-sac (1966)

dir. Roman Polanski

Polanski's a goddamn criminal prevert who should be in prison. Let's just get that out of the way. Yes, mine is a sentiment that goes without saying and really has no place in a review of the early Polanski film Cul-de-sac, but I've realized that in the many pieces I've written of Polanski's work I never once bothered to say, you know what, fuck Polanski's criminal ass. Honestly, I don't even know why I feel the need to mention it now. As I said already, it bears no relation to my review of this particular movie.

Maybe I'm just a coward. I should be able to trust that you'll know my affection for a particular work of art does not, by extension, imply a fondness for its creator. I don't know why I always feel like I gotta cover my ass. Just my nature, I suppose. I'm a timid motherfucker who's constantly afraid of offending. If, for some reason, I think there might be even half a chance that others will think I find Polanski the person swell and dandy, I have to nip that shit in the bud: hence my blunt fucking non sequitur intro. (Now you're gonna ask how a first sentence can qualify as a non sequitur. Doesn't that fly in the face of the very definition of non sequitur? Well, fuck you; that's how.)

Now that that's out of the way...

Perhaps Cul-de-sac's greatest strength is unpredictability. Which is funny because, given the plot, this movie would seem, on the surface, such a standard affair that the notion of predictability—were it to gain sentience—would likely be best buds with this movie.

Richard (Lionel Stander) and Albie (Jack MacGowran), two wounded criminals in search of a safe-house, land at a secluded castle now home to newlyweds George (Donald Pleasence) and Teresa (Francoise Dorleac). The two lammists must lie low here while waiting for Katelbach, their superior. Typical home invasion flick, right? Wrong. Although the premise may sound familiar, how Cul-de-sac gets from point A to B—and all spaces in between—is where the magic (so to say) happens.

I was not expecting, for instance, that after Richard forced George to bury the dead Albie (he dies), the two would have a seaside party of two, getting wasted on Teresa's moonshine—Teresea meanwhile racing to the ocean for a moonlight swim.

(Sound of record scratching)

But let me back up.

Cul-de-sac's intro is a thing of strange beauty. Polanski stretches to the breaking-point the "when am I gonna find out what the heck this here story is" tension. We are introduced, almost elliptically, to featured characters in the first few scenes; not before, of course, tertiary and/or never-to-be-seen-again characters flit in and out of Cul-de-sac's universe. Polanski is more interested in establishing mood and setting, before thrusting us into the story.

The matter-of-fact way that George and Teresa discover, and are introduced to, brutish American thug Richard, for instance, is atypical to say the least. It also speaks to the passive timidity of George: The man is so taken aback that an intruder would dare to invade his home, so unsure of what to do, that the most he can do is utter half-hearted "this isn't so polite"-isms—in the stuffiest British manner possible, of course.

It isn't long before Teresa impugns George's masculinity, maligning him for his timidity, his inability to act in any meaningful way to protect his home and family. Thematically, Cul-de-sac is, as you can see, of a piece with Peckinpah's Straw Dogs. But where Peckinpah opted for brutal savage realism, Polanski instead engages in absurdism. Indeed, much of this film plays as dark comedy.

However, as is so often the case with older films that were cutting once upon a time, much of the humor here falls flat. Of course, I don't know that Polanski's film was intended to be laugh-out-loud funny. That this is a comedy is due more to the ridiculousity of the story and character actions than to any typical comedy shenanigans. And the humor, the absurdity mostly hit you in retrospect. Indeed, Cul-de-sac seems almost a minor trifle on first viewing; but on reflection it gains in meaning. To quote Raising Arizona's Glen, "I guess it's what they call a way homer. Cause you only get it on the way home." Well, for me, anyway.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Smearing My Love on the Blogosphere (Week of Mar. 19)

Hey folks, today is Sunday, which means it's time once again to share some of my favorite work from around the blogosphere this week. Before I get around to that, however, I just wanna give another big thanks again to the fine folks at The Way Station in Brooklyn for allowing me to run my monthly movie night; it's been a real blast. I'm super excited that I now have the opportunity to watch some of my favorite movies in a room full of fun, equally nerdy people. If you live in the New York area, even if you don't care to come to one of my movie nights (the next one is on April 15, by the way) please check out this amazing bar.

As mentioned before, this is the entrance to their bathroom:

[How can you say no to that?]

Anyway, all that being said, here's some great blog action from this past week.

At tdylf, John shares five scenes that made him a Clint Eastwood fan.

At Anomalous Material, a discussion of great ambiguous/unhappy endings.

Jason at Man, I Love Films recounted the ten worst movies he's seen.

My friend Matt has another entry in his amazing web comic The Man of Many Shades.

At Big Thoughts from a Small Mind, CS wrote about the lost art of the film trailer.

At Ferdy on Films Rodercik wrote an insightful piece on the little known Phil Karlson film Hell to Eternity.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Too Many Things, Too Many Things, Too Many Things, Too Many Things

My recent busy bender brought to mind one of my favorite scenes from Boogie Nights, a juggling of two intercut scenes, in fact: In one section, Dirk Diggler and Brock Landers try to retrieve the tapes onto which they laid down their fucking heart and soul; in the other section, coked-up Amber Waves and Roller Girl do more coke and then talk a mile a minute about all their coked-up plans. Emulating a coke high, this section races past the viewer with an overload of information.

While trying to wrap her head around the sensory overload, Amber Waves blurts out, "Too many things, too many things, too many things, too many things." (Hey, that's the title of this post.)

No, I've never done blow (nor most drugs, for that matter), but I can certainly relate to the frenetic, juggling-ten-million-things-while-racing-at-100-miles/hour feeling conveyed in this scene. I'm not complaining, of course: Mine is good kind of busy—between screenplay writin', blog writin', podcast recording and editing, and a whole mess of other stuff; I'm feeling pretty creatively fulfilled.

It's just...I gotta take a breather sometimes.

Unfortunately I couldn't embed the video but you can watch it on youtube.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Trailer Time: The Brood (1979)

dir. David Cronenberg

Seeing as the teaser for David Cronenberg's upcoming adaptation of Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis just dropped, I figured the time opportune to share with y'all the trailer to Cronenberg's The Brood—a film I consider Cronenberg's first masterpiece. I don't wanna say too much about the plot, lest I ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it; but know that The Brood contains one of my favorite "Oh. My. God. They did not just do that. Holy. Fucking. Shit. Christ." endings. So yeah, what I'm saying is, you should see this movie.

And the trailer thinks so too, as its opening scroll so emphatically states:

“Now comes a major motion picture event that will take you far beyond anything ever filmed before. You are about to journey beyond fear, beyond terror, beyond the boundaries of your mind, in a film so terrifying, it will devastate you totally.”

Now at first sight, this copy may come off as pompous carnival barker-esque bluster: so overbearing, such braggadocio serves only to annoy. But if you were to think that, you would clearly be a person who has not had the pleasure of watching The Brood. This is one of those rare instances of the film more than living up to the studio hype. This shit is the real deal.

And what of the trailer that follows the hype? Overall, an incredibly effective piece of art: perfectly aping the film's tone; never revealing too much of the plot. But the one thing I can't get past, in fact the only thing that mars this trailer is the unforgivably awful “hitting every obvious horror note” narration. It is so over the top, in fact, that it verges, at times, on satire. Here’s a sample line.

The Brood. You can can hide and hope they won’t find you; but you won’t escape. Once unleashed, The Brood will destroy anyone who gets in their way.”*

OK, you may be wondering why I gave the opening text a free pass but decided to bitch about this narration. The difference? Um...uh...Ok, I don't know that there is much difference. It just seems so much worse when an overbearing, narrator makes you feel each line. Yuck.

But as parody, this narrator is a hoot.

*Not to nitpick, but the noun brood, like family or group, is singular. So this line should read: “Once unleashed, The Brood will destroy anyone who gets in its way.” Yeah, this way may sound clunky, but this way is the correct way. Grammar’s a bitch like that.

[The trailer:]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trailer Time: Piranha 3DD (2012) [NSFW]

dir. John Gulager

Here you go, folks, the brand new trailer for the much-anticipated Piranha 3DD. Now I know what a lot of you are saying, "Hey wasn't the Piranha 3DD trailer already released a while ago." Well, technically yes. But that one didn't have boobs. So there. Completely necessary. As you'll remember from my review last year I thought Alexandre Aja's updating of Joe Dante's Piranha a jolly rousing bit of fun. Will this one match up? Who's to say? As with Aja's picture, this one looks to be a self-aware Troma-styled splatter comedy.

Also, boobs.

Also, Ving Rhames has gun legs.

Also, boobs.

[The trailer:]

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Mahogany (1975)

dir. Berry Gordy

"Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going to)" - Diana Ross

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 35 - Hollow Man

dir. Paul Verhoeven

Roger Snead and I spend a good portion of our discussion professing our mutual love for Kevin Bacon and Paul Verhoeven, mostly as a way to avoid discussing the underwhelming Hollow Man. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Private Hell 36 (1954)

dir. Don Siegel

[Ok, folks, not gonna lie—this is a shit review (if review it can even be called). I had a full weekend, what with other obligation type things and such, so I couldn't give this write-up of Don Siegel's early movie Private Hell 36 the patented Dave Enkosky touch. You will have to admit, though, it has been a while since I started one of these reviews with an "I didn't have time to write shit" apologia. Nevertheless, I just didn't have time to get something real up for you. No worries, though, I'll have a regularly scheduled podcast up for you tomorrow, as well as other goodies throughout the week.]

You ever watch one of those movies that so exceeds your expectations, so...I don't know, just...knocks your balls off? Well Private Hell 36 isn't one of those movies. This early Don Siegel noir is exactly what I thought it would be: an efficient thriller with but small glimpses of the genius that was later to flourish in the career of this tough guy director.

That being said, here's some photo funnies from the movie:

["I'm sorry, we were talking about PBR?"]

["Goddamnit, she's gonna be wantin' another happy ending. Well, you know who's not happy about that? Me. Because I'm not happy, and now I gotta give a happy ending."]

["Come on, pencil mustache, use your powers for good this time. Get me out of this jam."]

["You're sure moving a body from the crime scene is cool?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Forensics doesn't mind."

"But why'd you have to piss on the corpse?"]

[It looks like someone discovered my life's goal—finding a box of money.]

["It took us half an hour to walk from the crime scene to this car. Why did we wait until now to talk?"]

["I'm sorry, we were talking about scotch?"]

["But no scotch?"

"Well, Mr. Gower said I wasn't aposed to, you being an alky, fully armed, and depressed and all."

"Well, you tell Mr. Gower he's goddamn poisoning me."]

["You sure it's not rude for you to give me a foot massage while at your friend's fancy dinner party? I'll have to check my Emily Post, but I'm pretty sure she frowns on this kind of thing."]

So yeah, an entertaining movie I'll file under the "Nice Try" category. My, that sounded douchey of me. Still, you should check it out.

Dave's Rating:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why Can't I Watch This Right Now?

dir. Ridley Scott

As if you haven't all seen this yet; as if I need to actually post this; here's the latest trailer to Ridley Scott's upcoming Prometheus. [Note: I am not responsible for you messing yourself after watching this trailer.]

Smearing My Love on the Blogosphere (Week of Mar. 12)

Hey all, it's the end of the week so that means it time once again to give a shout to other great bloggers. Also, yet another reminder that today is my movie night at The Way Station in Brooklyn. New York readers, you should totally come.

At Anomalous Material a great piece on ten little known movies.

At Kid in the Front Row an interview with director Greg Mottola.

At Man, I Love Films a great piece on appreciating classic films.

An infographic from tdylf on the similarities between The Big Sleep and The Big Lebowski.

A piece from Big Thoughts from a small Mind on Jean Dujardin and the Oscar curse.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Senna (2010)

dir. Asif Kapadia

Those who've listened to my podcast with Alfred Schulz on The King of Kong will know that I actively seek out documentaries on subjects that I know and/or care next to nothing about. I like to be exposed to new worlds I never thought I'd have any interest in. And so I couldn't wait to watch Asif Kapadia's auto-racing doc Senna. Not only do I not care about auto racing; not only do I know nothing about cars; not only have I never driven a car (not counting that one time an ex tried to teach me); but I have no desire to either learn about or begin to give a shit about anything car-related. Hell, I'd never even heard of the man Ayrton Senna—widely regarded as the best Formula 1 racer who's ever lived—until I heard of this movie. So Senna seemed a good choice to change my views.

And although I can't say as I've come around to the auto racing ways, this was certainly a couple hours well spent. Composed entirely of archival footage (any interviews are heard and not seen), Senna has the feel of a fiction film—albeit one composed on eighties video. And it is never less than riveting.

Kapadia expertly weaves a car-racing story for the uninitiated. Meaning, you don't gotta know shit about the subject to become enthralled by the minutiae of the sport. The fact that Senna once had to finish the last six laps of a race while stuck in sixth gear meant little to my car-ignorant brain; but seeing as the strain on Senna's body left his shoulders and neck so sore that he could not even be touched afterward sure as shit conveyed to me this man's passion for his sport. Also, who'd a thunk car racing could be so physical?

Riveting as the car chases and competitive duel with hated French driver Prost are, Senna is also a surprisingly moving film (translation: I cried a bunch at the end of the movie). It's an extraordinarily relatable tale. Anyone driven (pun maybe intended) to achieve greatness in a particular artistic or professional or what-have-you endeavor will find a compatriot in Senna—a man disgusted with the back-room politicking necessary for success in his field, a man driven (there's that word again) only by his love of the game.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Word Brave Has Lost All Meaning

[This man bravely balances a beer on his sleeping gut.]

Apparently, saying homophobic things is now considered "brave". And although HuffPo later changed the headline to the article, I wasn't the only one to notice that they referred to Kim Kardashian's "brave" decision to wear leggings as pants.

After being bombarded lately with such bizarre misuses of the word brave, I mistakenly assumed that the word had lost all meaning; but that simply ain't the case (despite what my headline misleadingly implied). There is no fault with the users of the word; I am the one behind the times. It was only after careful examination of what I took for word misuse, that I realized I am witnessing something historic: the changing of the meaning of a word before my very eyes.

We are all well aware that many words have changed meanings over time. But this generally takes generations. So rare is it to see this phenomenon happen at such a rapid clip. Why, only in the past decade we referred to rescue workers and soldiers as brave. But that's not what the word is used for anymore.

Whereas bravery used to denote the risking of one's life and/or well-being in selfless acts, it is now an adjective used to describe a person who has said or done something; or an adverb used to describe the saying or doing of things. Now I don't know the purpose of using a word (and one, mind you, that already had a previous meaning) to define nothingness, but I just gotta get with the times.

To illustrate the rapidity with which brave changed meaning, a not-yet-released movie concerning the actions of a heroic female warrior—one who pits herself against the forces of death—has the misfortune of being attached to the antiquated use of the word brave in that its title is the one and the same old-fashioned brave. If only the makers of Brave had realized that brave doesn't mean brave anymore.

Here's some more modern bravery in action.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to bravely masturbate to internet porn.

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: True Grit (1969)

dir. Henry Hathaway

"True Grit" - Glen Campbell

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 33 - The Baby

dir. Ted Post

Roger Snead and I discuss The Baby, a movie that still gives me the willies. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nothing Sacred (1937)

dir. William A. Wellman

As if you needed any reminderin', I thought I'd point out the glaringly obvious that decent movie roles for comedic actresses are few and far between. There's just shit all for options. What I'm saying is: Can someone, for the love of fuck, write a decent role for Anna Faris? For shit's sake, she's got yet another Scary Movie in the works. The world's just got no justice in it. When film historians of the future look back on Faris' work, they will all utter variations of, "Wow, she was so much goddamn better than the material."

But comedic actresses didn't always have such a tough lot. The past couple weeks, after watching Carole Lombard knock it out of the park in two standout screwball comedies of yore (My Man Godfrey and now Nothing Sacred), I was reminded of the plethora of quality pictures that used to be available to funny women—options that rarely exist anymore. And although Nothing Sacred is nowhere near as splendiferous as My Man Godfrey, it is still, at least, a work worthy of Lombard's talents.

I s'ppose y'all'll be wanting to hear at least a little something about this old picture here. Well sit down a spell and let me elucidate for y'all the plot of this little movie.

Playing Enoch Downer, the most unethical doctor of all time, is Charles Winninger.

[Correction: Whoever did this to these faces (I assume it was a two-for-one deal) is the most unethical doctor. I kid because I love.]

When Vermontian Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard) asks her Vermont Doc Downer for help in convincing folks that she caught herself a bad case of radium poisoning so as to score a free trip to New York, the doctor reasons that, "the Hippocratic Oath doesn't specifically frown upon aiding a patient in faking radium poisoning so that I can...wait, I can totally come to New York with you, right? I mean, like, I gotta go so that I can be all like, oh yeah take my word for it; she's all kinds of radium poisoned."

"Well, of course. I can't see why you wouldn't—"

"Yay. Oh my God. So many places I wanna...what are your thoughts on checking out Williamsburg? I know it's probably a bit trendy for your tastes but I oh so wanna go to an indie rock—"


"Wait, what?"

"This is the thirties, remember?"

"Oh yeah, that's right."

"I mean, if you want, we can go gawk at immigrants in Williamsburg tenements but uh..."

"No, no, no I wasn't thinking. We'll uh...Ah, we'll find something to do."

And so the two, on the Morning Star newspaper's dime, jet (ed. note: What is up with the anachronisms today? Propeller plane, please.) off to the big city in the company of disgraced reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March). After showing her the town and turning her into a celebrity, Wally falls all kinds of in love for Hazel. When he becomes aware of her deceit, hilarity/fistfights ensue.

Oh wait, how did we get here? Let me back up. You see, at the beginning of the picture, Wally got himself in some hot water over a dinner given by his paper the Morning Star, in which he presented fakedly, the building janitor as an African sultan. Understably, Wally gets stuck on shit patrol. Hoping to clear his name, he seeks out radium poisoned Hazel to bring to New York and make a name out of her. Problem is, he doesn't realize that she's faking the whole radium poi—

What? Oh this is where you came in? Ok, I'll just stop there.

Instead of recounting Nothing Sacred's many virtues, I thought I'd just leave you with my favorite aspect of the movie: glimpses of thirties New York:

But yeah, this briskly paced picture is an excellent showcase for Lombard's talents.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Smearing My Love on the Blogosphere (Week of Mar. 5)

It's the end of the week, so it's time once again to share with you some of my favorite pieces from around the blogosphere. Again, I wanna remind you that on March 18, I've got another movie night at The Way Station in Brooklyn.

Self-Styled Siren made me rethink the ending of Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window.

Over at tdylf a great piece on the history of the movie trailer.

Over at Man, I Love Films a list of ten great fictional movie bands.

From Anomalous Material a funny Drive-related post.

At final Girl a collection of really cool Alien posters.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Just A Taste

Still not convinced to come to my upcoming movie night at The Way Station, featuring Westworld and Congo? Here's a little Yul Brynner-tastic taste from Westworld.

Friday, March 9, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 32 - Woody Allen, Scorsese and Other Stuff

On this episode, I cobbled together a discussion Roger Snead and I had prior to recording the Humanoids from the Deep episode. Instead of making the Humanoids episode overly long, I decided to turn this section into a separate episode. You can listen to the episode here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Trailer Time: Sonny Boy (1989)

dir. Robert Martin Carroll

When I post one of these trailers here for to talk about it, I generally choose one for a movie I've seen. But I gotta make an exception here. I ever get in one of these endless video watching loops? No matter how many times you watch the video, it's just as mesmerizing as the first time? Well, welcome to my current obsession. When my writing partner Roger (you'll listen to our podcasts if you're cool) first sent me this trailer I knew nothing about the movie. I still don't. And I don't wanna know anything about it until I get my hands on a copy of the film. I must see this.

[The trailer:]

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Beer Wars (2009)

dir. Anat Baron

Check out this mid-nineties Conan clip featuring beer connoisseur Michael Jackson and tell me what's odd about it.

[Conan clip:]

Actually I don't care what you think; I'll just tell you what's odd about it: Even as recently as the mid-nineties, beer connoisseurism was such a strange concept that a beer expert's appearance on a talk show was played for laughs. Why did the idea of drinking beer for the taste seem so goddamn ludicrous?

Well, as we learn from Anat Baron's documentary Beer Wars, most of the blame lies at the doorstep of the giant American beer conglomerates, the big three (now two). After the end of prohibition, a large and varied group of beer companies rivaled each other for supremacy in the marketplace—each delivering distinct and flavorful beers to set themselves apart from the competition. The big three (now two), however, instead of creating a quality product, realized, "Fuck it, it's beer. It doesn't matter if our shit tastes like watered-down horse urine; it's got alcohol in it."

And so, instead of investing in research, the big three funneled all of their money and power into pummeling the American public with their inferior product. They advertised us into submission. Because the big three (now two) had for so long convinced us that taste didn't matter, we began to agree. The smaller companies, unable to match the resources of the big three (now two), eventually went under—leaving us with the notion that shitty beer was the way it always was and had to be. "Beer's supposed to taste not good, right?"

But with the legalization of home brewing in the late seventies, many Americans realized they didn't have to drink the swill peddled to them by the big three (now two). And it was inevitable that industrious start-ups would begin selling their home brews, pocketing a small chunk of change in the process. And thus was born the era of craft beer.

Although, how much of an era is this? It turns out that despite its ascendancy in recent years, craft beer has put but the tiniest of dents in the profits of the big three (now two). But that don't mean the big three (now two) haven't noticed. They have used every weapon at their disposal—coercion, deception, monopolistic dick thrusting—to ensure that craft beer never gets a toehold in the industry. If you haven't gotten the point by now, it saddens the big three (now two) when any American drinks anything other than watered-down horse urine.

And what of the actual quality of the documentary Beer Wars? Eh. Barton traffics in the sort of "I'm gonna put myself in front of the camera as much as possible, as well as record a running narration consisting of faux naive questions about the nefarious activities of the subject I'm investigating; thus making myself—just as much as the supposed subject of the film—the focus of the picture" style made popular by Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock. And although I generally find this style grating, this film was no exception.

Nevertheless, Beer Wars does explore a subject of interest to me (despite my new-found healthy ways), and Baron does an admirable job exposing the underhanded tactics of the big three (now two) beer companies.

By the way, is anyone else thirsty? I...

OK, I'm just gonna end this review right here.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

dir. Alfred Hitchcock

"Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" - Doris Day

[As used in the movie:]

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blind Spot Series: Husbands and Wives (1992)

dir. Woody Allen

(Warning: Before delving into my review of Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives, I feel I need to issue a disclaimer to my younger readers: Although Liam Neeson plays a prominent role in the film, he tragically refrains from punching anything.)

I’ve got a confession to make (if I haven’t already made it at some point on the blog in years past), aside from Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona—and now Husbands and Wives, duh—I've never seen any post-1979 Woody Allen pictures. Yes, I confess; it’s all true. Film police, you can now take away my film geek credentials. I would attempt to apologize for this glaring oversight but I'm sure it would ring hollow. Really, there’s no excuse that could make this blind spot right.

And so, when choosing films for this blind spot series I knew I owed it to myself, as well as you, my loyal readers, to begin to make right what I had previously let go wrong for so long: I needed to watch a "newer" Allen film. Of course, I didn’t wanna choose just any old post-70s Allen film. If I chose, say, Anything Else and shat all over what I assume, and am pretty sure, is a not good movie, the whole affair would have been pointlessly mean-spirited and curmudgeonly. After all, part of the reason I kept from watching these later Allen films for so long was that I assumed they wouldn't live up to the earlier films I respect so much. I needed to be fair.

Yes, I opted instead for a critical consensus favorite. And so it was that I arrived at Husbands and Wives (douchey phrasing much?), a film widely regarded as Allen’s best picture since Manhattan. Additionally, Husbands and Wives seemed a pertinent choice in that it arrived in the midst of Allen’s early nineties legal trouble and subsequent separation from Mia Farrow, theretofore Allen's longest relationship. (I won’t go into the specifics of Allen's legal and personal troubles but it rhymes with: Poody Pallen pis pa…um…uh…pervert). Husbands and Wives was a transitional film, if not stylistically than certainly personally for Mr. Allen.

How does Husbands and Wives stack against the hype? Pretty well. And it certainly lit a fire under my ass to catch up on the rest of Allen's "later" output. Shot in a purposefully disorienting hand-held docu-style, the love fades-themed film grants viewers an, at times, uncomfortably intimate front seat to the inner workings of failed relationships. This movie may as well have been titled Hey Folks, Watch as My Relationship with Mia Farrow Deteriorates.

As we open on the prickly Woody and Mia as—fuck it; I'll forego character names for this piece. Anyway, Woody and Mia are met for dinner by longtime friends Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis (probably her best performance). As soon as they arrive, the guests blithely announce that they will be separating. Woody and Mia, understandably, are shocked that such a seemingly stable couple had, for so long, been living a lie and are now relieved to be separating. If these seemingly happy people couldn't wait to separate, what does it say about Woody and Mia's already tenuous relationship? As Tony Soprano has said, "Everything turns to shit."

Except...except, some things get better. Well, better ain't exactly the right word; but after some random dalliances, some folks drift apart, some opt to sacrifice excitement for stability, some are satisfied, others aren't. Not romantic, not touching; but certainly realistic.

This is one of the most brilliant films I've seen from Woody. However, knowing the backstory, knowing the reasons for Allen’s estrangement from Mia Farrow, it was hard not be grossed out by much of the film. After all, Husbands and Wives plays relatively close to the grosser aspects of real-life Woody. Playing a literature professor, Allen puts the creepy old man movies on his student Juliette Lewis. Now, even ignoring the fact that seeing Allen make out with the granddaughter-aged Lewis did little to keep my breakfast down, I need not hammer home to you readers, the parallels here to Woody's real life grossness. The movie is effective, but this kind of opening-a-window-into-the-creepy-personal-life-of-the-artist intimacy is a little too suffocating. Which I guess is the point.

To summarize: Movie = good; Woody = yuck.

[In lieu of a trailer, I'll leave you with The Ben Stiller Show parody of Husbands and Wives:]

Dave's Rating: