October 30: Two Friends (1986, 76 minutes): See, this evening Iím on a roll of "girlfriend movies". This oneís a Jane Campion, so itís murky, slow and rather irritating, the narrative spins out backwards. Two teenage girls who grow apart, or if youíre with the time-shift conceit, grow closer. The director also favors lots of short shots, thereís very little in the way of establishing the full locale, even in a room Ė so I was left claustrophobic and disoriented atop everything else.
October 30: Love and Other Catastrophes (1996, 76 minutes): Now, this was a light, comic Australian film about some student Gen-Xers in Melbourne. An ensemble cast spends a day meeting, greeting, drinking coffee and finding true love. Wafer thin, but fun. At least they were some fresh cuties Iíd never seen before.
October 22: The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997, 94 minutes): The premise is one only Bill Murray could pull off - lovable slightly self-absorbed goofball (read: any Bill Murray role) believes he is acting in an avant-garde Theater of Real Life when in fact heís all tangled up in international espionage. Itís a slim gimmick, and it just barely works, if only for Murrayís believable lack of guile. I didnít expect much, and ended up with more laughs than I thought.
October 11: The Devilís Daughter (1972, 74 minutes): B-grade totally-see-through tale of devil worshipers. Has Shelley Winters huff-a-lumping all over the place. The cheesiest cheapest special optical effect at the end! Donít want to spoil it!
October 11: Petey Wheatstraw: The Devilís Son-in-Law (1977, 95 minutes): A Rudy Ray Moore classic. Mixed-up plot, low production values, lame special effects - you know it! But, thereís some good laughs, some unintentional, like Mooreís misguided belief in his attraction (put your shirt back on) and some outrageous clothes. Film is worth renting for the slow-mo funeral death, the slow camera really lets you take in the duds. Theyíre unbelievable!
October 10: Heaven Can Wait (1943, 112 minutes): Better known as "not the Warren Beatty movie." An Ernst Lubitsch flick about a gay 90s playboy. Not as sharply drawn or as barbed as some of his other comedies of manners. Stars Don Ameche, too, who I can never quite get with.
October 10: Damn Yankees (1958, 110 minutes): Oh the horror. Sports musicals. Iíd rather watch the Olsen twins.
October 10: Cabin in the Sky (1943, 99 minutes): See, here I was renting a bunch of movies that were supposed to have scenes of Hell in them. Hadnít seen this movie in years Ė one of a couple of all-black musicals Hollywood made in the 40s, and fortunately, it remains a musical I can sit through - lots of happy feet Ė and had some Hell. Louis Armstrong was in Hell, those jazz musicians!
October 9: The Sentinel (1976, 91 minutes): Surprise! The entrance to Hell in New York City. One of many post-Exorcist gross-out devil movies. Plays pretty lame today, though there is no way youíd ever get to show that real-life freak show at the end! Sylvia Miles is truly the most terrifying thing in this movie.
October 9: Black Orpheus (1958, 103 minutes): Such a gorgeous movie! An update of the Orpheus legend, set in Rioís carnival. The color in this film is fantastic. Try and see it on a big screen. The film kind of drags in places narratively, but you can just look and listen.
October 8: Highway to Hell (1991, 93 minutes): Another updating of the Greek death myth. Hell looks just like Arizona, but the little details are different. Hell is populated as one might expect with bad cops, hookers, biker gangs, mouthy waitresses, likely members of Guns Ďní Roses and cloying children. Itís a lot like earth, but with more bad puns. Car breaks down? Here comes a Satanic Mechanic. Folks who wished theyíd done better are ground up for asphalt. ("The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Stop youíre killing me.)
October 8: Bill & Tedís Bogus Journey (1991, 98 minutes): Saw it once already. Sat through it again for Hell Studies. As you can imagine, film is (1) not so funny the second time (and this already was a sequel!) and (2) the 80s were embarrassing.
October 8: Deconstructing Harry (1997, 96 minutes): I was surprised to find this film amusing, profane (!! - is it me, or was this film filled with cuss words like no other Allen film?), and though clearly drawn from the Personal Files of Allen yet again, less irritating than other recent works. The Allen character here is a full-fledged self-absorbed shallow jerk, maybe thatís why it works. Itís all a trifle post-modern and not too deep. A little heavy on the stunt casting though.
October 7: Barton Fink (1991, 116 minutes): I do like this film. It does end rather inexplicably, but the detail of the 1940s Hollywood is fabulous, at once charming and nasty. The studio head, I love that guy! John Goodman was always the best part of Roseanne.
October 7: Martin (1977, 96 minutes): George Romero flick set in Pittsburgh, well, Braddock technically. Teenager is or isnít a vampire. A cult favorite, but it kind of creaks along. Fairly gory, I screened it during dinner, should have waited. Has a fight scene in a thrift store.
October 6: Cold Comfort Farm (1995, 95 minutes): Slightly over-the-top tale of a get-with-it high-minded gal who decides to smarten up her wacky and flailing country cousins. Or what passes for wacky in the 1930s English countryside, lots of animal fixations, demented mutterings, unkempt hair. Parts of it seemed a little too-too, veering close to unintentional Python territory, but it held together. BBC. Light fare.
October 4: Set It Off (1996, 120 minutes): I really grooved on the Queen Latifah low-ridiní shot-guní totiní lesbian-in-the-hood role. A total fantasy, but at least it seemed more real than the rest of the cast - who were all supposed to be hard-edged hard-pressed hood chicks. Puhleez. I wasnít there. Melrose Place is where those gals needed to be. The set-up situations - the "realities" that drove these 4 nice gals to take up brutal bank robbiní - were too pat and took far too long to outline. Would have been cheaper if theyíd just set up 4 believable actresses in the first place. The viewer could have known they were hard from the beginning, because 20 years living in some hellhole *will* do that - and not have to sit through 4 separate "oops, there goes my life" cliches.
October 4: The Spiral Staircase (1946, 83 minutes): A creepy old house, a mad killer on the looseÖINSIDE! For an oldie, this is a surprisingly edgy film. I jumped a couple of times and itís nicely shot for maximum suspense. My only complaint, it was too easy to guess the killer.
October 3: Mad Magician (1957, 72 minutes): A Vincent Price quickie. Looks like a retread of the earlier House of Wax (both were in 3-d once) right down to the sets and costumes. The narrative hints at some extra gory magic tricks, but never delivers.
October 2: Con Air (1997, 115 minutes): More exploding hardcore American schlock from the English guy (itís a foreign plot to subjugate us) who gave us The Rock. Instead of Alcatraz, now itís Las Vegas blowing up. Another numb-nuts performance by Nicolas Cage, and a chance to see the cine-artistes really smash a plane into the soon-to-be-imploded Sands, Aladdin? Good lord, they implodes casinos so fast in Vegas these days, I forget which one it was.
October 1: Phenomenon (1996, 124 minutes): Supposedly this film is kind Scientology-ish. Well, fortunately, I donít know enough to care. Travolta is surprisingly irritating in this tale of a nice guy who develops a supersonic brain. Film is way too long, way too Hallmark Card-y.
October 1:GI Jane (1997, 124 minutes): "Suck my dick! Suck my dick! Suck my dick!" Hereís to female empowerment. A must-see scene! Later I realized that Demi Mooreís character is able to complete the extra-arduous jumping-up-and-down Navy Seals training because her plastic boobs donít move. Not even when sheís hanging upside down in a tiny tank top. Ainít science grand?