Monday, June 18, 2018

Fool's Views (4/1 – 5/31) (Part 2 of 2)



All right! Back for round two!

My Steven Soderbergh extravaganza was inspired, in fact, by my recent viewing of David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, where I thought, "I wonder if I can find Schizopolis as well." (Yes, this is how my mind works. You're just lucky I didn't also decide to pop in Fritz Lang's Metropolis and/or the Jim Wynorski documentary, Popatopolis.)

With regard to the half-dozen Kurt Russell flicks, that was born of a recent conversation with my good pal John Pata where we were talking about the recent Overboard remake starring Anna Faris, and I confessed that I had never seen the original with Himself and Goldie Hawn. I then went on to confess that I was pretty light on the Kurtiverse as a whole, and so rattled through IMDb and the Chicago Public Library shelves to see what all I could track down.

Here's the thing, though: I don't understand the mystique about Kurt. I find him to be completely capable yet hardly distinctive. I feel, with the exception of his features with John Carpenter (minus Escape from L.A., because ohmygodthatmovie), he's always doing his Kurt thing which I don't find all that interesting, much less A-list material. I find myself imagining other actors in the roles that he plays and that's never a good thing. I figured I must be missing something, but six more films under my belt (plus The Fate of the Furious, watched the first week in June) has done little to change my mind. Ah well.

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

Enjoy!

HORROR:


Monster Madness: The Gothic Revival of Horror (2009) d. Herberger, Jeff (USA) (1st viewing)

I was searching for a little Peter Cushing to celebrate his May 26 birthday and stumbled across this fun little documentary (for which Jon Kitley and I served as talking heads many moons ago) about the rise of Hammer studios streaming for free on Amazon Prime. Fun little stroll down memory lane on several levels.





The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) d. Dowdle, John Eric (USA) (2nd viewing)

Well done horror “mockumentary” covering a notorious serial killer who videorecords his slayings. Less Blair Witch in its found-footage execution, since the enterprise is depicted as a legitimate documentary effort and as a result, there is far less shaky-cam than the usual first-person fare. Director Dowdle would go on to helm the English-language [Rec] remake, Quarantine, on the strength of his work here. Recently released to Blu-ray by Shout Factory, its first legit video release, with some fine extras to celebrate the occasion.

https://www.shoutfactory.com/product/the-poughkeepsie-tapes?product_id=6373





The Ritual (2017) d. Bruckner, David (UK) (1st viewing)

Fantastic “lost in the woods” thriller goes in some refreshingly unique directions, utilizing creative direction and a stellar ensemble led by Rafe Spall. I’ve been a fan of Bruckner since his contributions to the 2007 sleeper The Signal and I hope this elevates his profile significantly.





The Slime People (1963) d. Hutton, Robert (USA) (1st viewing)

The kick-off to this year’s Turkey Day in May® remains an enjoyable ’50s-style sci-fi monster flick with some genuinely impressive creature suits and a lot of creosote smoke/fog covering the cracks in the script and performances.





Slithis (1978) d. Traxler, Stephen (USA) (2nd viewing)

The same could be said of TDIM® feature #2, a lovely slice of low-budget eco-terror with a bloodthirsty fishman spawned from radiation tearing up the coastline of a sleepy California town.

(I had to split early from this year's festivities due to Woman in Black obligations, but you can read the entire Turkey Day recap HERE)





Train to Busan (2016) d. Yeon, Sang-ho (South Korea) (1st viewing)

Big budget zombies-on-a-train delivers exactly what anyone could ask for, with a lot of fun energy, few new ideas, and an extended running time that clips right by.





XX (2017) d. Vukovic/Clark/Benjamin/Kusama Canada/US (1st viewing)

An anthology of four short fright flicks written and directed by women sounds like a wonderful idea, especially in this day and age of female empowerment. Problem is, not a one has a real stinger of a punchline and with a horror short, that’s kind of the point, right? Wanted to like it, but could barely remember anything only a few days later.




THE TOM TOM CLUB


American Made (2017) d. Liman, Doug (USA) (1st viewing)

Mr. Cruise did most of his own flying for this “wait, that really happened?” story of Barry Seal, the guy who took the FBI, the Contras, and the DEA for a ride (or several rides, as the case may be). Entertaining and ambiguous with regard to celebrating our antihero.





Knight and Day (2010) d. Mangold, James (USA) (2nd viewing)

Tons of fizzy fun, utilizing our star’s effortless charisma and physicality to full effect as a rogue undercover operative who kidnaps Cameron Diaz’s everyday gal after she inadvertently becomes involved in an elaborate superspy game of cat n’ mouse. McGuffins, live-wire stunts and snappy comic interplay abound.





WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT STEVEN:


And Everything is Going Fine (2010) d. Soderbergh, Steven (USA) (1st viewing)

I became a huge Spalding Gray fan after seeing Swimming to Cambodia and (especially) Monster in a Box, so a documentary about the monologuist was right up my alley. Most of the footage is from his spoken-word performances, so if you’re familiar with those, you’re not going to get a lot of new information, but I hadn’t realized how frail he’d become after the car accident that undeniably hastened his suicide.





The Girlfriend Experience (2009) d. Soderbergh, Steven (USA) (1st viewing)

Adult film star Sasha Grey made her mainstream film debut in this button-pushing examination of a high-class escort who establishes genuine relationships with her clients, although the emotional walls she maintains to protect herself extend to every relationship in her life, leading to a muted existence. Thought-provoking and more than a little disheartening.





Logan Lucky (2017) d. Soderbergh, Steven (USA) (1st viewing)

High-spirited heist flick with Channing Tatum and Adam Driver starring as a pair of lunkhead blue collar brothers with a scheme to knock over a race track, with a brilliant supporting cast killing it right down the line. Great fun.





Schizopolis (1996) d. Soderbergh, Steven (USA) (1st viewing)

After the frustrating studio experiences of Kafka, King of the Hill, and The Underneath, Soderbergh returned to the independent world to conjure this low-budget idiosyncratic comedy (in which he also plays the main character) comprised of a series of loosely connected vignettes and characters. Well worth seeking out.





THE KULT OF KURT:


Dreamer (2005) d. Gatins, John (USA) (1st viewing)

All the feel-goods about an injured racing horse that makes an amazing comeback thanks to the gentle love of a child and her supportive family. I think I just got a cavity writing that.





Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) d. Gunn, James (USA) (1st viewing)

Starts off feeling like every sequel trying to outdo its predecessor with forced humor and characters acting out of character, but finally settles into itself once Gunn & Co. get around to telling a new story. As Chris Pratt’s all-powerful pater, Kurt sports a breathtaking mane and beard that deserve credits all their own.





Poseidon (2006) d. Peterson, Wolfgang (USA) (2nd viewing)

A remake of the disaster movie classic The Poseidon Adventure with the guy who directed Das Boot and The Perfect Storm at the helm might seem like a no-brainer, but it makes the fatal mistake of giving the spotlight to a bunch of CGI FX as opposed to wacky and believable characters (Kurt is no Gene Hackman or Ernest Borgnine… or Shelly Winters, for that matter).





Sky High (2005) d. Mitchell, Mike (USA) (1st viewing)

Easily the most enjoyable view of KurtFest 2018, with Mssr. Russell and Kelly Preston starring as a pair of superhero parents whose offspring is slow to come into his own. The teen cast is energetic and likeable, with a lot of fun gags and action and hit-and-miss humor.





Swing Shift (1984) d. Demme, Jonathan (USA) (1st viewing)

Goldie Hawn (aka the future not-Mrs.-Russell) headlines as a married factory worker female during the WWII war effort who falls for her co-worker (guess who) while hubby Ed Harris is overseas. Not-bad mix of comedy and drama, and directed by Demme in straight-ahead fashion (as opposed to Stop Making Sense, Something Wild, or Silence of the Lambs fashion).





3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) d. Lichtenstein, Demian (USA) (1st viewing)

A great high concept (Elvis impersonators knock over a Vegas casino) is shamefully squandered within the first 20 minutes of a two-hour movie, leaving us with psycho Kevin Costner and career criminal Kurt double crossing each other for 90 minutes while the camera spends as much time ogling Courtney Cox’s bottom as possible. What should have been a fun romp is an ugly and violent mess that throws in a cute-but-sassy kid for good measure. And those end credits. WTH.


2017 Totals to date: 112 films, 88 1st time views, 42 horror, 13 cinema


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