Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fool's Views (9/1 – 9/30)

"You don't think AC's losing his touch, do you? Oh, shhh, here he comes..."

Howdy, folks!

Yep, the whole month of September has come and gone with only 14 flickers taken in. Chalk it up to a hectic performance schedule and a renewed commitment to physical fitness – funny how when you’re putting in up to three hours sweating it out, there are fewer left in the day for the Views. Luckily, a number of DVD screeners, two platelet donation sessions, a group outing to the multiplex, the continued blessing that is Turner Classic Movies, the Kryptic Army, and a trickling of random flicks filled out the bill. That said, considering I’ve built up a head of steam for the upcoming October Challenge, I think it’s only right to have taken it a little easier this month – things are about to get keeeeeerazy up in here.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.



Dead 2: India, The (2013) d. Ford, Howard J. / Ford, Jonathan (UK) (1st viewing)


Legend of Hell House, The (1973) d. Hough, John (UK) (5th viewing)


Lucky Bastard (2014) d. Nathan, Robert (USA) (1st viewing)


Pieces of Talent (2014) d. Stauffer, Joe (USA) (1st viewing)


Scared Stiff (1953) d. Marshall, George (USA) (1st viewing)

This remake of the 1940 Bob Hope comedy The Ghost Breakers (which I have yet to see), is decidedly a Martin & Lewis vehicle right down the line. Jerry is a clumsy frightened busboy in a swanky club where Dean is crooning, but when mobsters come looking for Dean (who’s been messing around with the boss’ girl), they head off to Havana with lovely young Lizabeth Scott who has just inherited a supposedly haunted castle. There are a couple of somnambulist zombies and ghosts, but the most disturbing thing is probably Lewis’ Carmen Miranda impression. Not funny, not scary, not recommended.


Brüno (2009) d. Charles, Larry (USA) (1st viewing)

Sacha Baron Cohen brings another of his Ali G Show characters to the big screen after the mammoth success of 2006's Borat. Sadly, it’s clear that even though he and director Charles are again utilizing the “mockumentary” format, there’s no freshness to the other characters’ reactions since they are clearly in on the joke. Tries to be (and occasionally succeeds) outrageous, but it’s mostly a bunch of jokes about mincing gays and narcissism. I think I laughed once.

Compliance (2012) d. Zobel, Craig (USA) (1st viewing)

Closely following the events of the 2004 “Mt. Washington scam” (where a female fast food employee was accused of stealing by a male caller claiming to be a police officer, and then strip-searched and sexually assaulted by the management, all at the behest of the mystery voice), this critically acclaimed drama falters mightily in the presentation of its characters, such that the viewer can only feel insulted rather than complicit. In order to be anything other than an exercise in audience superiority, Zobel needed to make his hapless employees dumber and/or Pat Healy's antagonist smarter. As it currently stands, we’re completely disconnected from the dramatic action, not asking, “What would I do?” but rather, “What planet are these people from?”

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) d. Gunn, James (USA) (2nd viewing)

Remember how everyone was debating the merits of Godzilla a few months back? Then we got a legitimately smart and entertaining blockbuster and suddenly, no one was talking about Godzilla anymore. We are Groot.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010) d. Stern Ricki / Sundberg, Anne (1st viewing)

Terrific documentary about the trailblazing comedienne and her refusal to go gently into that good night even as she turns 75. Frank about her extravagant lifestyle, equally extravagant expenses, flagging popularity, and the countless plastic surgery procedures without apology or pity.

Samurai Cop (1991) d. Shervan, Amir (USA) (1st viewing)

One of the classic trash movies of our day, with brain-blowingly bad acting, script, editing, fight scenes, love scenes, cinematography, direction, etc. Review-wise, William Wilson of Video Junkie has already done the job – check it out HERE.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) d. Rodriguez, Robert / Miller, Frank (USA) (1st viewing)

Man, oh man. What was brave and innovative a decade ago now feels tired and mannered, with every male cast member trying to affect a gravel-voice and the women alternating between husky and breathy. With few exceptions (pssst, Jessica Alba, you look great, but you can’t act), the all-star cast is serviceable but thoroughly uninspired, with Eva Green’s doffing her duds the only worthwhile surprise to be had in 102 minutes. Not a total waste of time, but you’d be better off busting out the 2005 original (which actually felt, well, original).

Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954) d. Becker, Jacques (France) (1st viewing)

Legendary French actor Jean Gabin (Grand Illusion) delivers a stunning low-key performance as a career criminal looking to cash out of the game, following the proverbial “one last score.” Loose lips start sinking ships around him, but the screen veteran is the pinnacle of icy cool. Pretty sure I was turned onto this by one of Roger Ebert’s Great Movies books (yep, just Googled and it was the second volume), and no disagreement here.

Way We Were, The (1973) Pollack, Sydney (USA) (2nd viewing)

“Everything seemed so important then...even love!” Redford and Streisand, both at the height of their popularity, paired for this exercise in well-wrought romantic melodrama about an idealist (she) and a golden boy (he) whose political and ethical convictions keep them apart even as they are passionately drawn together. A little schmaltzy, but Babs and Bob sell it right down the line. Marvin Hamlisch won the 1973 Best Song Oscar for the title tune (sung by Streisand), as well as Original Musical Score, then picked up a hat trick by winning Best Adapted Score for The Sting (also starring Redford).


To Have and Have Not (1944) d. Hawks, Howard (USA) (1st viewing)
Big Sleep, The (1946) d. Hawks, Howard (USA) (2nd viewing)

To honor the late Lauren Bacall (who passed away on August 12, just a few weeks short of her 90th birthday), TCM ran a 24-hour salute to her work. Sadly, I was tied up much of the day with tech rehearsals and errands, but I made sure to carve out time to see her first and third features, the ones that paired her with the love of her life. Hawks was apparently not wild about the offscreen sparks, seeing as how he had designs on the 19-year-old newcomer himself, but there was no denying the magic onscreen between the two. But even as magnetic as Bacall is, it is Bogart who commands the screen with his every wry glance and gesture. My God, that man was a STAR.

2014 Totals to date: 256 films, 152 1st time views, 138 horror, 30 cinema


  1. I have such fond memories of Scared Stiff, but haven't seen it in over 30 years. Maybe I should keep it that way.

    1. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Jerry Lewis - thought I must be French since I loved his stuff so much. Watching this (and being so put off by it) was pretty disheartening, considering that Jerry is doing the same stuff he does in all of his movies. I kept thinking, "Wow, I thought this was funny?" I'd say play it safe and avoid the revisit. But be careful about recommending it to others, since they might come back to get you.