Bordello of Blood (July 24th, 2016)
Director: Gilbert Adler
Starring: Dennis Miller, Erika Eleniak, Chris Sarandon, and Angie Everheart
There really isn’t much to this movie. It’s a big, goofy romp in the EC comics vein that Tales From The Crypt made a killing out of. The second big screen installment of Tales From The Crypt tackles vampires in a highly sexualized, goofy ass way. The violence is big and over the top, going for gratuitous effects shots that would be featured in Fangoria. The sex is the definition of gratuitous, simply there for the giggling boys in the audience. It has some satirical elements with Sarandon’s character of a preacher, but it never goes deeper than grade school humor. Dennis Miller strolls onto set as himself but with a PI card. It’s legitimately not a performance, just him reading lines in his way. No levels to it. Eleniak is fine but given little to do. Sarandon and Everheart are the standouts here, with Sarandon having some good fun playing the shitty but redemptive Preacher and Everheart relishing the grand dame of sex and vampirism. The ending goes for broke with a holy water massacre set to Ballroom Blitz and it’s a hell of a good time, just stupid fun. What’s funny to me is that Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale are credited with the story for this. And it has their style to it, when they’re in comedy mode. But not being at the helm of the project makes it feel not as well tuned as they would have made it. It’s done fine enough, but misses that spark they coulda brought to it. For what it’s worth, this is a fun little distraction if one is in the mood for some silly genre fare that doesn’t reach to high.
Point Blank (July 25th, 2016)
Director: John Boorman
Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, and John Vernon
I feel like guys my father’s age and a little younger have a very similar relationship to this movie that I do with Mel Gibson’s Payback. A real gritty crime drama that is a nice, testosterone filled kick in the ass. This isn’t all that surprising, since they are based on Richard Stark’s book “The Hunter”. And what’s really striking about the two movies is not the similarities, which there are. But it’s the differences. Sure, there’s aesthetic differences like Lee Marvin being called Walker and Gibson being called Porter while Stark’s character is called Parker. There’s the difference in locale, with this being set in San Francisco and Payback being set in NYC. But the biggest difference to me is the time period of the movies, with this one being definitely affected by the time period. Hell, this one is very much conscious in using the late 60s time period to make a grand statement about the world. Payback doesn’t really do that. Here, the movie is all about the changing of the times. For my money, the most important scene in the movie regarding all this is the fight scene set at a hippy club. We basically have the hippys living this blissfully ignorant life while in the background, old school Lee Marvin is having it out with the cronies of extreme capitalism. It puts it out there without ever spelling it out for you, and it was this scene that it all clicked in to place for me. Cause leading up to this, it was similar enough to Payback that I wasn’t delving too deeply into it. By the time the ending rolls around, it is so very specifically dealing with the idea of capitalism pushing the old and honorable ways to the wayside for mere profit while the rest of the world lets it happen before their very eyes. It doesn’t hurt that the delivery system along the way is a badass crime drama that hits hard but doesn’t desensitize the violence. When it happens, it happens quick and hard. Hell, murder is something that isn’t doled out all willy nilly. It gives it a real different vibe, one that you wouldn’t expect. I like the weight this movie has and the thematic heft it brings to the table. Lee Marvin is great as per usual as the smartest guy in the room and the baddest motherfucker walking Gods green Earth. John Vernon is real good as the sleazy ex friend who leaves Marvin for dead. Dickinson is fine as the love interest. Boorman does fantastic work in his debut feature, giving the movie a style that elevates it above some of the other crime dramas at the time. Cutting back and forth in time to showcase Marvin’s thought process. But the best example of his filmmaking is that you never once question who it is that Marvin is working with. They movie makes you think he’s a cop, but the reveal that he was the boss of this syndicate the entire time makes you just as surprised as Marvin. So when Marvin decides to ditch his money, you get it. He’s been a pawn this entire time to do the dirty work of a no good money making machine. This is a damn fine movie and one that I will most definitely appreciate more and more as time goes on. At the very least it has me itching to watch more of Marvin’s work.
Conquest of The Planet Of The Apes (July 26th, 2016)
Director: J. Lee Thomson
Starring: Roddy McDowall, Don Murray, Hari Rhodes, and Ricardo Montalban
So I fucked up a bit when I started this movie today. I fucked up the order of this series, thinking this was the 3rd entry. But lo and behold, I was wrong. And yet, somehow it works. Each movie in this series manages to fit within the series, building off what came before it yet able to stand on it’s own. Starting this movie, I was coming from it with the last movie ending with the World being nuked to oblivion. So when we are tossed into 1991 with an ape at the center named Caesar, my antennae perked up. What was the game they were playing? What was the journey this movie was gonna take me on? How did we get to this point after such a cataclysmic ending? I like that going into this movie, it felt like a puzzle that had to be pieced together. Obviously I remember the name Caesar being important in the prior movies, as well as the new series focusing on him as the Ape revolutionary. And then there’s the discussions about Cornelius and Zira coming back in time and birthing Caesar. How they were killed because of what the future held, and the baby was killed with them. 20 years after that event, we see the Apes are now in a position of servitude. Things are very much marching on towards a darker future. But the Governor (Murray) believes that Caesar is still alive, and when there are indications as such, the movie kicks into gear. Because what the movie is moving towards is the uprising of the Apes. And we see how it all falls into place, very much in this series’ fashion. The humans are so afraid of what will be, they set into motion their own downfall. Fear and the extreme measures to stay safe all ultimately lead to downfall, and that’s exactly the case here. It’s ingenious and continues the grand tradition of social issues powering these movies. Especially by the end, with the very violent riot that is very purposefully evocative of the Watts riots only 3 years prior to this movies release. They aren’t subtle here, outright making it a case of Slaves having to rise up and put down the ruling class. It ends though on a more hopeful note than the other movies in this series. Sure, that’s not a high bar to clear. And this ends with the Apes on top. But it feels like it’s about to lead to a mass execution but ends before it gets to that point. We leave it off with the apes showing more compassion than their human oppressors. The movie manages to overcome a very small budget to make it feel bigger than it really is, giving it the scope it needs to tell the origin story of the downfall of man and the rise of the apes. I very much like this movie and feel like it is a very underrated entry in this series. From beginning to end, it just works and sells the messages it’s going for. As someone who didn’t think the sequels to the original would be worth a damn, they have very much managed to surprise me at every turn.
Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (July 26th, 2016)
Director: Don Taylor
Starring: Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Bradford Dillman, and Eric Braeden
After jumping ahead on accident to the one made after this, I made my way back and it honestly works really well. This feels like a prequel to that movie, fleshing out the things briefly mentioned in that one and showing how we got to this point. And how we got to that point was basically a mirror image of the original movie. A ship falls from the sky and the three inhabitants stumble out but are different. Here though, it’s 3 apes we know from the first 2 movies and it’s them landing on Earth almost 2000 years in the past. Earth of 1973. But unlike Charlton Heston’s cold reception in the original movie, these apes are given a bit of the red carpet treatment. Sure, Milo gets accidentally killed by a gorilla. But Cornelius and Zira are treated well enough. The first half of this movie plays like a comedy, with the fish out of water stuff being played very much for laughs. But what it’s really doing is lulling us into a sense of security. Because like these movies are want to do, humanity gets in the way of itself and blazes the path to it’s own doom. When they find out Zira is pregnant, lone wolf Braeden sets out to get the baby aborted and the two parents castrated. Instead of taking their warnings of humanitys destruction at it’s own hands to heart, humanity blame the outsider and ends up making things so much worse. Because if they didn’t turn Cornelius and Zira into villains, Caesar wouldn’t have been orphaned and wouldn’t have been put into the position to lead an uprising. Hell, the movie is so bleak about civilization that it even turns Cornelius into a killer. To be fair, it’s because Braeden shoots Zira and the baby. Ending the movie on such a down note, with a family being gunned down for being others and the fate of humanity being sealed out of ignorance and fear. Because Caesar lives, and he is gonna see firsthand how bad man can be. Basically, this series sees the world in such harsh terms that they wouldn’t be surprised by the rise of fear and ignorance leading the world in such ares as the Brexit or Donald Trump existing. While it may not be as well crafted as part 4 to me, this is a damn fine movie that manages to make some big statements in an entertaining but bleak package. I love this series and will sing its praises until the cows come home.
Jason Bourne (July 28th, 2016)
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, and Tommy Lee Jones
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What’s Up, Doc? (July 29th, 2016)
Director: Peter Bogdonovich
Starring: Barbara Streisand, Ryan O’Neal, Madeline Kahn, and Michael Murphy
This is a movie very much not made for me. And it really boils down to O’Neal and Streisand. I don’t like Streisand. No connection to her music and really never cared for her as an on screen presence. Trying to make her a Bugs Bunny type character is just annoying to me as I don’t think she’s very funny or able to get across the anarchy that Bugs brings with him where he goes. She always feels like she’s performing, never disappearing into the role. Then there’s O’Neal, one of the biggest chunks of wood I have ever seen as a leading man. In the few performances I’ve seen him give, only The Driver was able to get a good performance out of him and that’s because Walter Hill is smart enough to use his blank persona as a character trait. Here he’s trying to play a character, a real doof of a man. A smart guy with no social graces, but O’Neal can not to it. It’s almost like when Mark Wahlberg has to play smart. Completely phony. And he has no chemistry with Streisand. The rest of the movie though is decent enough, a screwball comedy that manages to wrangle a few laughs out of me. I’m not the biggest Bogdonovich fan, and I don’t think he nails comedy too well. Let’s things sit a little too long and doesn’t know how to hammer home the humor as well as he could have. Maybe it’s because I see Madeline Khan in here, my mind goes to Mel Brooks being the ideal guy to helm this. This isn’t a bad movie, but one that sinks in my own personal esteem due to weakness of the two leads. But if you have any sort of connection to Streisand, this movie will work like gangbusters for you.