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Sunday Matinee: For All Mankind

This week’s movie of the week on The Criterion Channel is the 1989 documentary For All Mankind.

Directed by Al Reinert this doc looks at the Apollo progam and uses actually archival footage that NASA shot during the time and interviews with the astronauts and crew who participated in the program.
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Sunday Matinee: Wanda

This week’s Criterion Collection streaming film is the 1970 film from writer/director/star Barbara Loden, Wanda.

Loden was an actress who worked in TV and film in the 1950s and 1960s. She was a cast regular on The Ernie Kovacs Show in 1956 and she starred in director Elia Kazan’s 1960 film Wild River and 1961’s Splendor in the Grass. She married Kazan in 1967 and while on vacation a mutual friend, Harry Schuster, offered Loden $100,000 to make her own movie. She wrote the script and couldn’t find a director including her own husband so she directed the film herself as well as starring in it. She made the film for $115,000 and while the movie did receive praise and it won Best Foreign Film at the Venice Film Festival in 1970, it was never given a wide theatrical release in North America.
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REVIEW: Captain Marvel Answers the Call

Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel uses public transportation.

Writer’s note: Much like with the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters, Captain Marvel has found pushback from the darkest, redest corners of the Internet. I wouldn’t normally be troubled by trolls or James Woods (I know, same thing), but some may bunch together less-than-glowing reviews with the rambles of individuals that feel threatened by Brie Larson’s activism or the idea of a feminist superhero. My critique is focused on the film exclusively and external considerations have no weight in my analysis.


Captain Marvel has a tall order to fill: It must bridge the cataclysmic events of Avengers: Infinity War with Avengers: Endgame and has to establish a hero not only capable of going head-to-head with Thanos, but also lead the super-team into a post Iron-Man era.

I’m here to tell you the film does complete the task, but doesn’t excel at it. Captain Marvel is a functional popcorn flick without much of an identity outside being proudly feminist. It’s surprisingly drab-looking for a Marvel Studios movie and the action sequences are perfunctory at best. The performances –not the plot– carry the film, a rarity for this universe. Continue reading “REVIEW: Captain Marvel Answers the Call”

REVIEW: Climax Takes a While to Get There

While one of the great provocateurs of modern cinema, Gaspar Noé is not known for his consistency. His most recent work (Love, Enter the Void) doesn’t hold a candle to the truly searing Irreversible and I Stand Alone, but shows a willingness to evolve and an ease with the camera bound to pay off, sooner or later.

Noé comes damn close to get his act together in Climax. It’s not without problems –it feels like a short stretched to feature length– but the setup is one for the ages and features moments of true brilliance.

Allegedly based on real events (as per Noé), the film takes place in the course of one evening at a dance school party in the middle of nowhere. Small dramas and petty conflicts become amplified when someone spikes the sangria with acid (I usually spike it with gin, but to each its own). Unable to escape or contact the outside world, psychosis takes over and the students’ limber bodies take serious punishment. Continue reading “REVIEW: Climax Takes a While to Get There”

Sunday Matinee: Stalker

The Criterion Collection is going to launch their own streaming service in April to take the place of FilmStruck. Charter members who signed up early have been treated to a free movie every week since the start of February. The first week it was Elaine May’s Mickey and Nicky. Week two saw Chungking Express. Week three was Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Tom Jones. This week’s movie is Andrei Tarkovsky’s brilliant masterpiece Stalker.

Loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky this 1979 Soviet film is set in a future where something called the Zone has been created. The military have forbidden travel into the Zone but there are specialists called Stalkers who lead people into the Zone. They also collect special artifacts from the Zone and sell them on the black market.
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Sunday Matinee: Godzilla: The Planet Eater

In the final film of the series our “hero” Haruo finds himself on trial from the remaining Bilusaludo for killing MechaGodzilla city and thus killing all the Bilusaludo who merged with the nanometal in the last film. This act also essentially killed Haruo’s girlfriend Yuko who was partially merrged with the nanometal and has now been left brain dead. The remaining humans disagree with the trial saying that Haruo’s actions exposed the Bilusaludo’s intent to assimilate the Earth.

Meanwhile Haruo starts a relationship with Maina. He also discovers that the Exif, Methphies wants to bring the Exifs god to Earth to defeat Godzilla. Methphies starts converting the surviving humans into a cult worshiping his god. The Exif on the Aratrum (the spaceship carrying the last remaining humans) also begin gathering followers.
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Sunday Matinee: Godzilla: City On The Edge Of Battle

The second film in the Godzilla anime movie trilogy, City on the Edge of Battle picks up right where Planet of Monsters left off. Quick recap. Godzilla has taken over Earth and the remaining members of the human race have fled the planet along with two alien races, the Exif and the Bilusaludo, on a spaceship called the Aratrum. Now they have returned and find that thousands of years have passed and the Earth has evolved because of Godzilla. A small group lead by Haruo Sakaki tried to kill Godzilla. Having believed to have killed Godzilla the group discovers that all they did was kill a baby Godzilla, the real Godzilla has grown much much bigger and is even harder to kill.

Haruo was injured in the attack against the real Godzilla and he wakes up in a hut. Humans have survived on Earth and become more primitive. A young woman named Miana saved Haruo. Miana’s twin sister Maina doesn’t like Haruo much but the two sisters use telepathy to talk to the survivors to find out what’s going on.
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Sunday Matinee: Godzilla: Planet Of The Monsters

I have watched a lot of Godzilla movies, just about all of them. With the exception of one or two I have seen most of the 35 films featuring Godzilla.

A couple of years ago Toho Studios decided to make an animated movie trilogy. These films are more futuristic sci-fi films than the previous Godzilla movies. Set in a world where humans have been chased off of Earth by Godzilla they have been travelling through space with two alien races, the Exif and the Bilusaludo. The aliens helped what was left of humans to escape and they have been traveling to a new planet for 20 years.
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Sunday Matinee: Sisters

Director Brian De Palma had been making movies for several years, mostly dramas before he shifted gears and focusing on thriller/horror movies starting with 1972’s Sisters.

Sisters stars a young Margot Kidder as a French-Canadian model/actress who is trying to make it in New York City. She stars in a peeping tom talk show and goes out for supper with the other actor Phillip Woode (Lisle Wilson) who won dinner for two for his participation in the show. A creepy man shows up at the restaurant and demands that Kidder come home. Kidder claims the man is her ex-husband. The man, Dr. Emil Breton (William Finley) claims that he is her husband. He’s escorted out of the restaurant. Afterwards Philip and Kidder go to Kidder’s apartment where they spend the night.
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Mads Mikkelsen Brings the Cool in Polar

Mads Mikkelsen is Duncan Vizla a.k.a. the Black Kaiser in Polar.

Odds are you will come across a number of articles comparing Polar to John Wick. Pay no attention to them. Sure, they both revolve around (relatively) honorable hired guns whose employers turn against them, but the similarities end there. One loves dogs, the other one… you’ll find out.

Based on the graphic novel by Victor Santos, Polar revolves around Duncan Vizla a.k.a. the Black Kaiser (Mads Mikkelsen). An accomplished hitman, Vizla is looking forward to his retirement, just days away. His plans come undone when the corporation that employs him would rather take him than pay him severance. The assassin doesn’t take the attempts on his life kindly and plans to take his grievances to the top.

If John Wick mopes the entire movie, the Black Kaiser is not above enjoying hard liquor or a roll in the hay, even if his companion has murder in her mind. He does however have a couple of regrets that reverberate throughout the film. Continue reading “Mads Mikkelsen Brings the Cool in Polar”