Monday, August 30, 2010

TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971)

Two young dudes (one a driver, the other a mechanic) are driving aimlessly all over the country looking for cars to race for a quick buck. One day a young girl climbs into their car and they just drive off without a word. Later at a gas station they start talking to a dude about racing.  They decide to drive across country to Washington D.C. for their pink slips. They take off, but soon the race is forgotten and the rest of the movie is just these people driving around and around. The End.

If you're looking for a race movie (like I was) then you're going to be disappointed, but despite that I still kinda liked this movie a little, but I'm not sure why. There was just something about the feel of the movie that I found appealing. I especially liked the surrealism of the final scene.

After watching the film I read a few articles/reviews and I think the quote that sums the film up best is "a fascinatingly bleak and oblique road movie that perfectly nails the bummed-out malaise of the early 70s"...a.k.a. post-EASY RIDER bullshit where the confused studios were looking for a quick buck.  If that sounds exciting to you then check it out. Or if you're you're actually looking for some 70's hot rodding in your 70's hot rod movie then watch DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY instead.

THE LAST SHARK (1981)

Yes, this is a JAWS ripoff, but in the right state of mind this movie is pretty funny.

A huge shark starts attacking people in the waters surrounding a small coastal city right before their big windsurfing competition. People get eaten and lots of stock footage of clearly different types of sharks is shown until finally the townsfolk have had enough and guy with a helicopter goes out to catch the shark (he doesn't), next a diver with dynamite goes looking for the shark and the shark chases him into a cave and then smashes the rocks until it closes up the entrance (wow!), some teenagers go looking for the shark with a rifle and one of 'em comes back minus a leg (that scene was actually shocking), a overzealous TV reporter chains a giant hunk of meat to a dock and the dock gets pulled out to sea along with a bunch of people and in another great scene a guy is in a boat when it gets hit by the shark and the boat and the very stiff dummy goes flying 15 feet in the air! (see picture below)

No nudity, but plenty of ridiculous shark action to keep you giggling from beginning to end. If you can find a copy check it out.

I don't understand why Steven Spielberg had to be a sore sport and sue the makers of this film. Yes it had a lot of similarities to JAWS, but the film is so goddamn shitty that now I want to watch JAWS again just to see a good shark film. That's actually a great idea...I'll try and review the JAWS series soon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

LATE BLOOMER (2004)

A physically handicapped serial killer with massive blue balls is a great idea for a movie (in fact one of the best horror films I've ever seen was an 8-minute short film about a completely physically handicapped man with massive blue balls who goes on a frenzied killing spree...but I forgot the name of the film and I've never been able to find a copy. Does anybody know the name of the film?), but the script for LATE BLOOMER doesn't hold up for the full 83 minutes. Not even close. Trim off 45 minutes and you might have something.

Sumida is physically handicapped as fuck, but he seems to be completely mentally aware and can get around pretty good when it comes to walking. He has two caregivers that help him and one, an older lady, has a cute niece who wants to visit Sumida for a few weeks so she can write a college paper on caring for the handicapped. She comes over an Sumida is smitten with her almost a quickly as she's smitten with Sumida's other caregiver: a handsome singer for a rock band. Sumida is too innocent to even notice this at first, but once he does he goes bonkers and...well, you'll just have to see for yourself, but I don't really recommend that you do cause the shit is too long-winded and boring. Worst of all when it finally gets to the ending it's a complete letdown.

Kudos for the interesting idea and actually casting physically handicapped people in the film, but there's way too much filler.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MATINEE (1993)

Set in Key West, FL during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the main character is a boy who loves watching monster movies at the local theater. Right at the height of the Crisis a new movie opens, MANT! It's about a radioactive accident that turns a guy into a half-man/half-ant creature. Even better yet is the director of the film, play to perfection by a giant John Goodman, is appearing in person and he's rigged the theater full of surprises like electric shock seats, giant speakers, air cannons shooting shit all over the joint and a guy in a ant suit running around scaring the shit out of kids!

Beyond the storyline of the movie premiere, is some coming of age stuff that I really enjoyed, like him getting a girlfriend; the theater owner's bomb shelter; bomb drills at school and his best friend dating a chick with a crazy ex-boyfriend who likes to yell out bad poetry while attacking people.

MATINEE  director Joe Dante made a few of my favorite films like GREMLINS and ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL but after he made MATINEE in 1993 he really hasn't made much of anything. Sad. It's strange how people in the film industry can just disappear. Maybe he should make a GREMLINS 3.

I wasn't alive or even close to being alive back in the early 60's/ late 50's, but I love the romanticized idea of a simpler era where people were innocent...yes, I know that it's a complete lie made up by Hollywood, but still it's a pleasant thing to dream about. If you like the idea also or you just like a good movie then you should check out MATINEE...and if you're feeling extra frisky then you should also read Robert McCammon's "Boy's Life".
Naomi Watts

Monday, August 23, 2010

THERE WAS A FATHER (1942)

Another touching film by Yasujiro Ozu. This time the story is about a single, widowed father (Chishu Ryu in his first starring role) who has a son. He's also a teacher and after a accident at the beginning of the film that leads to a boy's death, the father is so overcome with guilt that he quits his job. He still wants the best education for his boy, so he sends him off to school while he, the father, works in Tokyo. The boy is heartbroken, but he does his best and eventually gets a job as a teacher himself.

For his entire life, the boy has longed for a closer relationship with his father and eventually when he himself is an adult they grow closer and are able to spend time together, but by now the father is old and well past the prime of his life.

To me, THERE WAS A FATHER is a even sadder film than it's DVD companion THE ONLY SON, because even though the father, I'm sure, loves his son very much it seemed to me that he was selfish in quitting his job. At the beginning of the film, everything appeared to be very happy, but once he quit his job it threw his son's life into turmoil and when he just dumped him off at the school and moved away that was extremely cruel. The little boy has already lost a mother and now his father abandons him?! I don't have any children, but when you become a parent you are responsible for that child and just because a horrible accident happened and one of your pupils died it doesn't mean you should quit your job and scar your kid for life. You gotta man up, put on your big boy panties and do what's best for your child.

Back to the film though, it's beautifully shot (a lot of the exterior shots could be put on postcards) and the performance by Ozu regular Ryu is very good. His version of an old man (Ryu was 38 at the time) is much more believable than Toshiro Mifune's in I LIVE IN FEAR (Mifune was 35). Of the two films in this wonderful set by Criterion I think I liked THE ONLY SON better just because the separation between the child and the parent was against the parent's will. Then, of course, at the end the mother saw the separation as not being worth it (which is the saddest moment in the film), even though I disagree, to a point, with that because she was sad that her son didn't grow up to be "great", just normal.

The picture on the DVD is passable, but I was really surprised at the amount of crackling and audio noise was going on, but since this is the first time these films have been available in America I'll just gladly shut up and be grateful that they are finally here for me to enjoy. For a better, more educated, essay on THERE WAS A FATHER look here.