Monday, December 31, 2012

To Male Bonding By Hard Ways

312) Least Among Saints (20120) Dir: Martin Papazian Date Released: October 12, 2012 Date Seen: October 5, 2012 Rating: 1.5/5

Cliched and self-pitying: no, thanks. See my Village Voice review.

Life Before and After the Sopranos

310) Grave of the Vampire (1972) Dir: John Hayes Date Released: September 13, 1972 Date Seen: October 2, 2012 Rating: 2/5

311) Not Fade Away (2012) Dir: David Chase Date Released: December 21, 2012 Date Seen: October 5, 2012 Rating: 4/5

I've yet to catch up with The Sopranos for some reason or another (I should, I know). But this interview I did with David Chase for Esquire was pretty satisfying. I rewatched a couple episodes of Kolchak, watched some other episodes of The Rockford Files...there was, in other words, a good deal left out of this transcript but I still think it turned out well. Check it out. 

Oh and yes, I knew that Chase was heavily re-written on Grave of the Vampire. It shows in the film, but I still thought it would be interesting to talk to him about it...partly because he lost creative control, actually.

Get Me Away from Jesse's Grrl.....

307) An Affair of the Heart (2012) Dir: Sylvia Caminer Date Released: October 10, 2012 Date Seen: October 2, 2012 Rating: 2/5

I actually wanted to "get" Rick Springfield as I watched this doc, but it often feels like a lead-in to his autobiography, where ALL IS REVEALED, I'm guessing. Anyway, see my review of the doc at the Village Voice.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bill Murray: Our Prima Donna

RV!: What About Bob? (1991) Dir: Frank Oz Date Released: May 17, 1991 Date Seen: October 1, 2012 Rating: 3.5/5

It really doesn't hold up well in parts and while I still find it very funny, it also kind of made me think of how crazy our collective Bill Murray fetish (My Bill Murray Problem and Yours?) is. Here's a thing I wrote for Capital New York on that very subject.

Case in (Counter-)Point: More Blake Edwards Love

RV!: The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) Dir: Blake Edwards Date Released: December 17, 1976 Date Seen: September 29, 2012 Rating: 3.75/5

I had Blake Edwards on the mind that week, as you can see. Here's a piece I wrote on Blake Edwards, director, for Capital New York.

It Really Is

306) It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012) Dir: Don Hertzfeldt Date Released: August 24, 2012 Date Seen: September 28, 2012 Rating: 4.25/5

RV!: It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012) Dir: Don Hertzfeldt Date Released: August 24, 2012 Date Seen: October 7, 2012 Rating: 4.5/5

Pretty happy that I got to review this for the Village Voice when it screened at the IFC Center, and that Hertzfeldt himself saw and enjoyed my lil capsule. If you haven't seen the film, fix that. Check out my review here.

Mal Arnold Gave Me Stockholm Syndrome

RV!: Blood Feast (1963) Dir: Herschell Gordon Lewis Date Released: July 6, 1963 Date Seen: September 26, 2012 Rating: 1.5/5

This clunker has only grown in my estimation since I first saw it. I now get what, on a very basic level, Lewis was trying to do. I don't think he knew how to do it, and I don't think he made a great effort to do it, either. But the grand guignol elements that he says are there can be found in the film's leering close-ups, amateurish long takes on severed gams and mutilated bodies, and yes, Mal Arnold's stilted acting. Arnold has even said that it wasn't his idea to talk like, in his words, "Bela Lugosi:" that was Lewis's direction. There is, in other words, an intelligence behind this (historically) important shit heap. And now that I've spent so much time thinking about its creators, I don't think I'll ever be able to hate it.

I rewatched Blood Feast so that I'd have better notes for the chapter of this long-gestating book on gore and the exploitation of explicit violence on film. So I'm writing about it at greater length. I'm just not ready to show off that writing as it's still in progress. More later.

Opa, Blake Edwards Style

305) The Great Spy Chase (1964) Dir: Georges Lautner Date Released: May XX, 1966 Date Seen: September 25, 2012 Rating: 3.5/5

This screened at Cannes this year but I didn't get to see it in May. In my limited experience at that festival, I find it's impossible to see all of the neat-looking Cannes Classics titles that I might like to as they usually overlap with first or second screenings of competition films, or first screenings of new films showing in side-bar competitions. So I was glad that I had a chance to catch up with this goofy, Ex-lax-loose spy spoof that has precious little to do with spy movies. In that sense, I don't think a Blake Edwards comparison is inexact. 

I love the Pink Panther movies, and laugh long and hard at some of the weaker ones. But those comedies obviously don't have much to do with spy thrillers. They're scattershot farces, pastiches that throw together everything from The Green Hornet to Agatha Christie. Same thing is true of The Great Spy Chase, a dopey, but sometimes very funny Lino Ventura vehicle. It's overlong, has a great supporting cast, and the better slapstick gags are usually the funniest jokes in the movie....just like a lot of Blake Edwards's movies. Also, Ventura's great here. He's not given much to work with, but his implacable let's-just-get-this-over-with glare is hilarious, as is any scene where Ventura puts his muscleman physique to good use and barrels through walls, rooms full of the worst ninjas in the world (ugh, these guys are so bad, like Enter the Ninja bad), and oh yeah, murderous double agents. It's not high art, but it's fun.