Charlie Chaplin Mutuals
We showed 6 Chaplin films that he made w/ Mutual @ the Silent Movie Theatre. I'm not going to recap them but they're all great. This period is considered one of Chaplin's strongest because he was really coming into his own as a filmmaker, his Tramp character had developed quite a bit & he knew it quite well, & he was granted total creative freedom w/o fat ol' Mack Sennett breathin' down his ass. These films were made between 1916 & 1917. If you watch them pay special attention to Eric Campbell. He's Chaplin's heavy & plays the villian in almost all of them. He died in 1917--car crash. He & Chaplin had great chemistry & Chaplin preferred Campbell as the heavy because they played well together. There is a really fantastic documentary on Eric Campbell called Chaplin's Goliath. Check it out. Also check out the other 6 Mutuals at the Silent Movie Theatre this month on August 19th.
-The Floor Walker
Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks - directed by Robert Oliver
I saw this at the monthly Grindhouse Festival at the New Beverly. (ps please support the New Beverly it's always fun, even when the movies aren't so good) As for this movie... sucked. it's about uhhh like a boring castle & maybe someone wants to touch some boobs or something... & there's a caveman & a pissed off dwarf & they do bad shit...i already forgot, this one was boring, don't bother watching it....unless you're into bad Harry Novak produced 70s horror w/ frilly period costumes along w/ 70s sideburns. Oh I do remember one scene I liked. Dr. Frankenstein has this sexy stupid scared woman & he's got one of his monsters on the table & he's testing the monster's reactions to things so he's like "Suzy"---I don't remember if the character's name is Suzy or not but I'll call her that-- "Suzy, I'm going to kiss you in front the monster to test his jealousy instincts" or something like that. So he kisses the babe & the monster's like "rrawroooh!" & then Dr. F's like "Suzy I'm gonna rough you up & slap you to test his protective angry instincts." or something. Then he starts slappin' Suzy & the monster gets pissed. But the monster's tied to the table so he can't do anything about it. That was the only scene where I looked up & was like "orrwoohh!" Maybe there's a parallel w/ the the monster & the audience about that scene. That scene in the movie was like "Hey Movie, I'm going to test Josh's interest by putting a slightly interesting scene in & seeing if he reacts." so they put that good scene, then they were like "Now I'm gonna test to see how he reacts to boring shit." & I got bored. It's also the only movie this director directed.
Timerider - directed by William Dear
This movie has Fred Ward....the dreamy Fred Ward... as a guy whose name they keep repeating over & over in the beginning of the movie. Swann!!! Swann is a buttkickin' bikerider & he rides his bike to a spot where they're doing experiments & boring exposition I wasn't really listening to. Anyway their little science project has a quick hiccup & Swann is standing in the wrong spot & gets shot back to the old west where the bad guys love his bike! The title implies that he's going to ride through time...at least I imagined lots of time, but he really only rides to one time. Oh yeah this movie was cowritten & produced by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees! He also did a kickass synthy rock score. SPOILERS THAT YOU SHOULD READ ANYWAY: Swann has sex w/ this major babe who we later find out is his great great granny. Also, they set up a monkey early in the movie like it's gonna be important & then they never show it again!!! what the krap!
The Sleuth - directed by Joe Rock (but really Stan Laurel I bet!)
This is a Stan Laurel solo silent short film. I'd like to just say that I think Stan Laurel is genius. Sure everyone loves him, but I think he's AS GOOD AS Chaplin & Keaton. Better than Harold Lloyd. I've watched a lot of his solo stuff, there's a DVD set of them, check it out. Before he teamed up w/ Oliver Hardy, he did lots of shorts on his own & had a very specific brand of "crazy humor" which, if viewed now, come off quite modern & silly. But physically he's amazing too & I think he didn't always showcase himself in Laurel & Hardy as he did on his own. Anyway, The Sleuth is wacky & ridiculous & has a lot of silly gags that are fun to watch. & Stanley's physical comedy is brilliant. There's also some funny "dummy humor". This short was shown because he poses as a woman & we showed it before a Harry Langdon feature film where Langdon dresses as a woman.
That's My Wife - a Laurel & Hardy silent
This is a Laurel & Hardy silent short. In this one Ollie keeps ignoring his wife & she leaves him but that means he won't get the money that his uncle was going to give to him. He has to be married. So he makes Stan dress up like a woman (again) so he'll get the money. I love this shit, it's funny--what more do you want!? (also shown before the Langdon feature).
The Chaser - directed by Harry Langdon
Even Harry Langdon's son, Harry Langdon Jr., who introduced this film said that it wasn't one of his best. Langdon directed it himself, presumably because he'd burned a few bridges w/ the folks who made his career. I have seen a few of his films, his schtick seems to primarily be that he's cute. Baby faced. Awww! Perhaps the silent movie equivalent of Jimmy Fallon. The film is about how Harry is given a court order to wear a dress & act like a woman. There's some silly stuff in it, but it really goes on a little & it's unfortunately slightly forgettable. It's interesting of note that he spends most of the movie in a dress. So the visual absurdity of it is pretty interesting...other than that not a lot. A fellow wrote kind of a mean but good review of it here on IMDB.
Rambo: First Blood Part II - directed by George P. Cosmatos
In this movie shit blows up. A lot. Like a lotta shit. Blowing up. What happens in this movie is Rambo's cheerleader, Richard Crenna, comes to visit Rambo at his prison place & tells him he's got a get outta jail free mission. All he's gotta do is go do this hard shit where he takes pictures. Rambo's like hmm okay. Then Charles Napier tells him the details because he's the main guy in charge. Rambo goes to do the mission & he finds a POW--which wasn't expected. & they're about to pick him up & then Charles Napier turns into a big meanie & is like "mimimimi abort the mission!" & the copter leaves Ramby clear in the dust! Boy does Rambo get pissed. & because Richard Crenna keeps telling us that Rambo is an unstoppable badass, we get to see Rambo kickass & blow stuff up real hard in order for him to free the POWs & get back to base...or the place..or wherever. Gosh, I had some other things about this movie I really wanted to touch on...but I watched it a like week ago & I guess it just didn't stick w/ me hard enough.
The main thing of note is the difference between the filmmakers' intention of how audience is supposed to feel during this movie & during the first movie, First Blood. First Blood is about what happens when a "trained killer", taught to not have feelings, is oddly placed back into society & forced into a situation where he can either express his feelings, (which he doesn't know how to do) or he can retaliate. The drama is similar to that of watching a helpless kid get picked on. The country made him the way he is & they are not dealing w/ the psychological & social ramifications war has on people's lives. As a result you get post-war Rambo fucking up rednecks who fucked w/ him. Who is responsible? Rambo, who doesn't know how to get reintegrated in a society that he feels doesn't want him? Or the government, who went to war & made him the way he is, made him feel he was being heroic, then shat him out--w/o ever training him for "social combat"? First Blood is a very smart movie that poses some very intelligent/important questions. In Rambo: First Blood Part II, the important questions asked are "Hey, remember that badass lead dood from First Blood? What would happen if you placed that dood in some serious combat & pissed him off?" The answer is: a popcorn blockbuster w/ lots of shit blowing up! It's a completely different movie w/ completely different intentions.
You can delineate the difference in the titles of the movies. The first movie is called "First Blood". "They drew first blood!" Rambo exclaims. That's the message. This one's called "Rambo" because it's about fuckin' Rambo! He's the star! Not that boring old message from the first one. I'm not saying it's bad, it's just completely different. & a lot dumber. But, boy does Rambo kick some ass!!
The Car - directed by Elliot Silverstein
Brolin is rollin...w/ THE CAR! I saw two really stupid stoner doods in the video store once, fighting over renting this movie. That's pretty much why I rented it. One wanted to buy it but he didn't have the money because it's way out of print. The other wouldn't lend him money because he was waitin' on a "thing" to go through in his account. They seriously went back & forth for a good ten minutes right in front of the counter while everyone stared. "Just get it, bro!" "I can't do it, though!" "Why don't you just get it!" "Cuz I gotta wait for this thing!" "Just get it though."
So this movie is about an evil car that comes out of nowhere & terrorizes a town. It's pretty entertaining. Some big funny characters. It starts out killing some bikeriders & a wacky hitchiker who plays a french horn & wants to get laid. Then it makes it's way to town & starts killing folks & a lady who doesn't speak English tells James Brolin that it doesn't have a driver & he's like kinda like whoa doc this is heavy. The Car kills everyone by stabbing! Just kidding but that would be awesome. Yeah the car's kind of a one trick pony. I mean geez, car..can't you get a little more creative? Lemme guess how this next guy's gonna die...gasp you ran him over!? Hmm, guess I don't have much to say about the movie other than it was pretty fun to watch. James Brolin's son is starring in the new Coen Bros. movie & he looks like his dad in this movie. Except Josh is becoming a little more grisled. Like he's taking over for Nick Nolte or something. Maybe Josh Brolin is the the illegimate son of James Brolin & Nick Nolte. I'd do a picture matchup but I can't find a pic of James Brolin in The Car. Have to take my word for it.
Love and Bullets - directed by Stuart Rosenberg
This movie kicked ass. Bronson at his naturalistic acting best. Steiger is so awesome as the the mob boss w/ a stutter. I wish this were on DVD. This movie starts out w/ a bang (awesome car chase) & stays entertaining all the way through. So much good stuff going for it. It's a geniunely good movie. I'm not just saying I like it for irony's sake. Rod Steiger plays a stuttering mob boss & delivers a couple of brilliant scenery chewing monologues. It's pretty funny the notion that a guy w/ a goofy stutter could rise to the status that his character is supposed to hold. I am guessing that was a creative choice made by Rod Steiger, & not in the script. But I could be wrong. It also features Henry Silva!! That's right. Bronson vs. Silva. ethnic looking badass vs. ethnic looking badass. We all know that Bronson would take Silva any day though & that's why we never actually see them face off in the movie. That might be my only complaint. Well there's also some abrupt dissolves that seem to move the plot along, but on the positive side of that, the movie never gets boring. It's about a mob boss, Steiger, who is advised by lawyers & goombas (one of them Val Avery) to have his wife/love/charactery blonde/whatever, Jill Ireland (Mrs. Bronson) offed because she's been around him long enough to implicate him. So the mob hires sexy Silva to get the job done. Bronson has to start protecting her, & guess who falls in love!!?
I really enjoyed this movie & hope someone sticks it widescreen on DVD or plays it on a big screen. Bronson kills some doods w/ a blow gun that he made. Also, John Huston started to direct this movie, but had to quit for some reason. Here's a great review of it that I read.
The Simpsons Movie - directed by David Silverman
Was pretty funny. I laughed. I haven't watched The Simpsons tv show in like 10 years. I don't hate it, I guess I just lost interest. This one's about The Simpsons (Homer) pissing everyone off & then clever satirical parallels are made to the country & current adminstration's big mistakes & liberals get a good hearty laugh! & righties learn a very special lesson & the world is saved! yay!
I Now Pronounce You Chuck an Larry - directed by Dennis Dugan
I didn't hate it. I didn't particularly love the Rob Schneider in yellowface.... (if i say that will he email me & tell me I'm a jerk?) I actually didn't expect to enjoy this movie. I read a review that wasn't favorable & i was like "oh yeah I'm gonna hate that too." then i saw it in Phoenix cuz it was hot. I gave myself a double feature of this & the Simpsons. One thing to note about this movie. It is nicely shot. Nothing amazing, but compared to the bright & krappy cinematography of most studio comedies, the look of this one tricks my brain into thinking it's going to be better quality.
So yeah, Chuck & Larry are best pal firefighters & whichever one Kevin James plays is sad cuz he misses his dead wife & a technicality makes it so he can't get money because he didn't respond to some mail about how his wife died...something like that. Anyway his loophole is that if he were married (to anyone) he'd get the big bux to keep him from dying. He also saved Adam Sandler's character's (chuck?larry?)'s life so Adam/chuck/larry/Sandler is like hey i'll do anything (for love but i won't do that) for you now that you saved me life. Sandler's character starts out a real homophobie womanizer & then guess what happens! He learns to love & appreciate gay people & women in a way he wouldn't have done otherwise. There's a lotta obvious lessons that seem to be touched on in this movie, but whatever, I liked it, it was entertaining. I don't think I really laughed so much in it, but I found it enjoyable.
I kept thinking as I watched the movie, "Oh there's still stupid people out there who need to learn about this stuff...maybe some of them are big Adam Sandler fans & he can teach them to love gay people too." There's a part (SPOILER MAYBE?) toward the end where they're put on the spot to prove their homosexuality & they're pressured to kiss eachother in front of lots of people. They play it up like "Oh no what are we gonna do!? Scary, gross we gotta kiss!!!?", but at this point in the movie we've been through all the ups & downs, watched them grow as best friends, sleep in the same bed, get more secure w/ their sexuality/"fauxmosexuality" (i just made that term up it means gay-fakers, like it?), & their characters have so much at stake, it just seems so stupid for them to not dive right in & kiss. They've spent the whole movie masquerading & "hilariously" alluding to so much more, just fuckin' kiss! I didn't buy that part, & I think it was pandering to those audience members who might still, at that point, be scared & infuriated by homosexuality. Boo! (SPOILER'S OVER!) Oh yeah one highlight that sticks out in my mind was Ving Rhames. Even when it was over the top, he brought a sincerity to his character that a few others in the movie didn't. He's awesome. More Ving Rhames in movies please, thanks!
Okay that's all for now. I should do this more often so it doesn't take up so much time writing 10 at once or whatever.