Wednesday, February 23, 2011


"Hey, don't ya know? Kids today, they're not into drinking beer. They're into smokin'!"

Originally broadcast on NBC on May 18, 1978, THE BEASTS ARE ON THE STREETS is the straight-forward and relatively fast-moving story about a bunch of animals that escape from an animal preserve due to a truck wrecking into a fence.  Yeah, that story's pretty weak, but, who cares...I just wanna see the animals running around!  And speaking of critters.  You got tigers, lions, rhinos, ostriches, panthers, bears, elephants and camels.  The lions being the naughtiest of the bunch.  On the human side of things, we have a friendly zookeeper who's trying to capture the animals before any trigger happy hunters or cops can get their blast on.

Tiger vs. bear, Volkswagen Beetle vs. ostrich, Billy Green Bush acting like a psychopath, Burton Gilliam smoking an invisible joint, bear vs. paddle boat, lion vs. dog, lion vs. horse, brief elephant appearance, even briefer giraffe appearance, multiple animal trainers accidentally shown, Volkswagen Beetle vs. a rhinoceros, quick pace that slows some towards the end, zero nudity, zero gore, a baby camel that was so goddamn cute.  

Overall, TBAOTS is a fun film.  I bet kids back in 1978 loved it, since it's almost non-stop animal action. And that lion cub was so cute! I honestly think I said "Awwww!" every time he was on the screen...his paws were huge and his little trot was so adorable!

On the downside, I was very disappointed in the lack of monkeys and orangutans.  A rampaging spider monkey running around throwing his poo at people would have been entertainment gold...just ask Robert McCammon.


In this early mockumentary, we find Woody Allen as Virgil Starkwell, a bumbling lifelong criminal who's exploits are explored here in film. He was bullied at a young age and soon turned to a life a crime. First small stuff like breaking into gumball machines and stealing purses, but then graduates into robbing banks...or attempting to rob banks. Along the way he meets the beautiful Louise.

For it's time I'm sure it was fresh and very funny, but it's kinda dated now. First time viewers will enjoy it based on how much they like Woody Allen. It also helps if you've seen some of the movies this film references...I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, COOL HAND LUKE, The Marx Brothers and even VERTIGO (notice the restaurant Virgil takes Louise on their first date). I love Woody Allen, so even after not seeing this film for many years I still found it funny and the absurd slapstick humor reminded me a lot of his short stories, which I highly recommend.

While watching the wackiness of this film I couldn't help but think that less than a decade later he would write and direct the masterful INTERIORS. Truly impressive.
Louise Lasser,Woody Allen's wife from 1966-1969.

Camera shadow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

UMBERTO D. (1952)

An old man, at the end of his rope, looks for a loving home for his dog, so he can commit suicide without a guilty conscience.

Vittorio De Sica was a huge part of Italian neorealism and most people say that THE BICYCLE THIEF is his greatest film and yes it's a great film, even "one of the foundation stones of Italian neorealism" (Roger Ebert), but my favorite De Sica film is UMBERTO D. And it all has to do with the heartbreaking performance by non-actor Carlo Battisti and his character's love for his dog, Flag.

Umberto is living a horrible life. He's old, he rents a shitty room from a bitch landlady who doesn't care that the room has ants and even goes so far to show how much she doesn't care by letting couples hump in his room while he's out! That's some lowdown shit! The one spot of happiness in his life is Flag.  Umberto's whole life revolves around Flag. So, when his landlady throws him out, he decides to kill himself, but first he has to find a loving person to leave Flag with. That's much harder said than done.

I'm not going to be an asshole and give it all away, but this film is extremely sad, so make sure there isn't any hot chicks around when you watch the dog pound scene.  It's brutal and even after repeat viewings I still get all worked up watching it, but it's nothing compared to the end which is legendary in it's tear-jerking abilities. So make sure you have you big girl panties on when you watch it.

Beautifully made and highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A NEW LEAF (1971)

[Update 7/23/18: Deleted all of the screenshots. New DVD came out. Going to redo this review completely, as soon as I find the time.  This review is horrible.  I hate it.]

Is it just me or doesn't Walter Matthau look like a Monkees-era Michael Nesmith in that poster?

The film opens with Matthau being informed that the money he inherited years ago is all gone and now he's flat broke. He goes to his uncle, who hates him, and begs for money. The uncle agrees to give him $50,000 in a wager that he can't find a rich woman to marry in 6 weeks. If he fails, Walter has to repay his uncle $5 million! Anyway, Walter finds the awkward (and rich) nerd Henrietta and starts speed-courting her...but will he get her to marry him in time? And will he resist his temptation to murder her? What the fuck?

There are a few scenes that I halfheartedly smiled at, but I never laughed once. Mainly because Walter's character was a spoiled asshole.  Henrietta was likable, but completely unbelievable. I understand that she's a lonely dork, but what does she see in Walter's character? He's a selfish prick.

A NEW LEAF is not that good of a movie. In fact, I found it boring and uneven. The uneven part makes sense, because I read that the original cut of the movie was over an hour longer and even had Matthau going around killing people! When the studio saw the finished product they trimmed it down into this forgettable mess.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Where to even begin with this motherfucker?!  First off, it's currently 2020 and there still isn't a part 2 or a follow-up of any kind.  I find that to be extremely disappointing.  Honestly, I don't understand how there wasn't a TV show made about these crazy fuckers!

As the documentary begins, the audience is given a brief history of the White family and we're introduced to some of it's most notorious members.  During this time, it's explained, that while some of them do occasionally hold down jobs...most of them simply "hustle", deal drugs and steal to get by.  So...while they are entertaining to watch (from a safe distance), they're also a plague on the county they live in and society as a whole.

The White's initial claim to fame was decades ago when the father of the children in this film, D. Ray White, "invented" a clogging style of tap dancing that "nobody else could do".  By some bizarre twist of Fate, D. Ray was featured on a PBS special in the 1980's.  He was shot to death in 1985.  So now...20-plus years later, in 2008, filmmaker Julien Nitzberg and his crew visit the Whites off and on for a year and film literally hundreds of hours of footage, then somehow edit it down to 88 minutes, which, in my mind, is a mistake, because this film could have easily been three hours long.

As it is though, TWAWWOWV is the fastest 88 minutes in documentary history.  The time flies by and leaves you wanting more.  Each family member is more fucked and bizarre than the last.  It's an endless train wreck that I've watched many times and quote often.  "Dennis is this."

Make sure to watch the Extras on the DVD. There's one great scene where the husband of one of the White women is outside talking about the beauty of nature...while tossing beer bottles and trash off in the grass.  Then, for some drunken reason, he and his buddy moon the camera so deep you can see the one dudes complete ball sack, before driving off...still drunk, I assume.

Highly recommended.

NSFW screenshots