The Friday 5/28/2021

Tom Green: Freddy Got Fingered (20th Century Fox)

My piece this week for the Scarecrow blog, and etc.

Freddy Got Fingered/Monkey Bone. “Films that made weirdness their fundamental raison d’etre.”

The new episode of “The Music and the Movies” is a pandemic-related collection of Happy Movie Songs, which I offer as a free mood-enhancer. Check that out here.

You can still hear my episode on the Film Noir Lounge, where I talk about and play various songs from the piano bars and road houses of noir. That’s online for another couple of days.

I’m back for a two-year term on the Speakers Bureau at Humanities Washington, which sends people out to various parts of our state to talk. (At first we’ll be Zooming it.) My talk is called “This Is the End: How Movies Prepared Us for the Apocalypse,” where I explore – from the perspective of mankind’s response to the pandemic – how movies gave us the tools to deal, if only we’d been listening. Check out the description here, and if you live somewhere in Washington and are interested in hosting the talk, get in touch.

At my other website, What a Feeling!, I have three more ’80s reviews this week, of: Marcus Zurinaga’s Tango Bar, with Raul Julia in a docudrama about tango; Glenn Silber and Claudia Vianello’s Troupers, a documentary about the San Francisco Mime Troupe; and John Hughes’ Uncle Buck, a John Candy vehicle that unforgivably wastes its star by sacrificing comedy for corn.

Movie Diary 5/25/2021

Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, 2000). “Blessed be the one who sits down.” This one is second only to Andersson’s You, the Living in his series of tableau-blackout films. Big bonus here is the DVD commentary track, which, unusually for such things, is actually worth listening to. (My review of Andersson’s latest, About Endlessness, is here.)

Movie Diary 5/24/2021

Starting Over (Alan Pakula, 1979). A very nice movie to re-visit, marked by an elegance missing from recent comedies (although the same elegance was missing from comedies of its era, too). Burt Reynolds gives one of his best performances, and Candice Bergen and Jill Clayburgh are given plenty of room to shine, even if cinematographer Sven Nykvist could’ve been a little more generous to the latter. At the time, the script was by one of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” writers, but in retrospect you can see James L. Brooks working up the stuff that would become his bread and butter (adapting, in this case, a novel by Dan Wakefield).

Movie Diary 5/23/2021

Still watching movies for the Brooklyn Film Festival, so here are the titles last seen, without evaluation:

One Night in Kathmandu (Mohan Rai, 2021). Nepal. A woman (sad) and a man (cheerful) meet when they help an injured stranger on the street; they spend a night walking and talking in Nepal’s capital city.

Under the Lantern Lit Sky (Michelle Bossy, 2021). USA. The marriage of two people in the South in 1927, with some curious hang-ups on each side; it might be an average character study, but the woman (played by screenwriter Jaclyn Bethany) is named Blanche DuBois….

Kalokhachya Parambya (Makarand Anaspure, 2021). India. A young man becomes the apprentice of a master of the Indian tambourine, but complications come to their village when the master’s young wife arrives.

The Friday 5/21/2021

Ida Lupino: Road House

My piece for the Scarecrow blog this week, and etc.

Shrek 2/Shrek the Third/Shrek Forever After. “Never really warmed up to the franchise in the first place.”

If you will, pull up a barstool and listen to my new episode of “The Music and the Movies,” in which I host an hour called “The Film Noir Lounge,” a collection of songs performed in the piano bars and road houses and nightclubs of film noir. I had fun with this one; it’ll be online until 5/30 or so.

And still a couple of days to hear “Coen Brothers Jukebox,” my curation of songs from the films of those guys. A new episode of “M&M” plays Sunday night at 7.

Three vintage reviews posted this week at my other website, What a Feeling! Here we have ’80s reviews for: Rick King’s Hotshot, a soccer movie with Pele; Diane Keaton’s Heaven, a super-quirky documentary about the afterlife (does anybody even remember this exists?); and David Anspaugh’s Hoosiers, a beloved sport picture about which I had reservations.

Movie Diary 5/19/2021

I’m on a jury at the Brooklyn Film Festival, so continuing to keep track of movies watched, without comment.

Hell Is Empty (Jo Shaffer, 2020). USA. A young woman, a runaway, finds herself take up by a small band of religious cultists on a small island; the patriarch holds sway as they all gradually go crazier.

Kringle Time (Matthew Lucas, 2021). The on-camera death of a longtime kiddie-show host (played by Road Warrior demon Vernon Wells) prompts the show’s director to take the role -a singing and dancing snowman – himself. One thing, though: Snowmen have secrets.

Walk with Me (Isabel del Rosal, 2021). A woman leaves a marriage and starts fresh, which includes an attraction to a realtor/singer-songwriter who lives nearby; it’s set and shot in Brooklyn, a full-fledged co-star.

Movie Diary 5/18/2021

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (Martin Ritt, 1965). No particular reason for this, just a desire to watch something clean and sharp. Richard Burton’s spy is said to be 39 years old in the story, and one thinks, well, they took a few years off to flatter the actor, but no, Burton actually was 39 when they filmed it – the weariness, and the booze and cigarettes, just make him look older. I still think Night of the Iguana is his best performance, but this is extremely good. The coolness of Claire Bloom and Cyril Cusack works very well for the mood, whereas Oskar Werner’s quickness and naked ambition mark him as unexpectedly, and really rather touchingly, human.

Movie Diary 5/17/2021

I’m on a jury for the Brooklyn Film Festival for the second year. So I’ll post the movies I’m watching, without editorial comment – wouldn’t want to tip my hand, after all.

American Desert (Adrian Bartol, 2020). USA. A soldier returns from Afghanistan, to a milieu that would be extremely challenging even if he weren’t suffering PTSD horrors. The Mojave Desert figures in the final sections of the film.

Bone Cage (Taylor Olson, 2019). Canada. Another film about lives stuck in a backwater, this time north of the border, as a lumberjack (played by the director) considers marriage and escape, but keeps getting pulled back in to the community’s violence.

Corral (Marcelo Brennand, 2020). Brazil. Local politics, seen through the eyes of a ground-level organizer who makes a bet that his candidate, an old friend, won’t be tarnished by the highly corrupt process. The scarcity of water is a running theme, as it soon will be everywhere.

Tango Shalom (Gabriel Bologna, 2020). USA. Comedy: A Hasidic rabbi needs cash, and decides to exploit his natural dancing ability by entering a tango contest. The cast is bolstered by some old pros, including Lainie Kazan, and also Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna, the director’s parents.

Two Is a Magic Number (Holger Borggrefe, Stefan Hering, 2020). Germany. In the aftermath of a disabling accident, a scientist is confronted by an ex-girlfriend and an ex-friend, as we flash back to the sources of the unhappiness – with almost the entire film set at a lakeside cabin.

The Friday 5/14/2021

Baran Rasoulof, Mohammad Seddighimehr: There Is No Evil (Kino Lorber)

My piece for the Scarecrow blog this week, and etc.

There Is No Evil. “In all of its segments, the movie lets you breathe, and finds a way to allow the passage of time become slightly uncanny.”

Listen to my latest episode of “The Music and the Movies,” which is called “Coen Brothers Jukebox.” I play songs the Coens have used and talk about why their choices are so very Coenesque. That’s online at Voice of Vashon for the next week or so.

The previous episode, which look at the Beat movement in film, is still online through the weekend. That’s here.

Three vintage 1980s reviews this week at my other website, What a Feeling! I think I might do three a week for a while – after posting over 900 reviews, I’m starting to run thin. Check these pieces on: Savage Steve Holland’s How I Got Into College, a flat college comedy with a good cast of character actors; Mario Camus’ The Holy Innocents, a Cannes prizewinner and a significant hit in Spain; and Chris Columbus’s Heartbreak Hotel, with David Keith as Elvis and a rare Tuesday Weld sighting.

Movie Diary 5/11/2021

The Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956). Checking out the blu-ray. Such an interesting movie: the first half a docu-drama with Fonda’s character, as though Hitch wanted to try out the form and master it, almost as an exercise, the second half a psychological inquiry into Vera Miles’ breaking-apart wife and her feelings of alienation – that part points ahead in Hitchcock’s work to Vertigo and The Birds. Miles is terrific, and Hitchcock’s camera frames her in a way that feels entirely empathetic.