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Sunday Matinee: Arabian Adventure

In the 1970s, producer John Dark and director Kevin Connor made a series of lower budget fantasy films. Most of the films were in the lost world category with the first three being adaptions of Edgar Rice Burroughs works.

The last two were original stories, Warlords of Atlantis in 1978 and the last was this 1979 adventure film, Arabian Adventure.
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REVIEW: Aladdin Gets a PC Makeover

 

Given all the revenue Disney is generating by turning animated classics as live-action features, it’s very unlikely the House of Mouse will stop doing it any time soon. Even the so-so Dumbo made over 340 million dollars worldwide.

While I would prefer Disney to take risks as opposed to mine the back catalogue, there is some joy to be found in these remakes: The breeziness of Cinderella, the underlying melancholy of Pete’s Dragon, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera in The Jungle Book. The one thing you won’t find: Freshness. These movies have been fussed over within an inch of their lives. They are expected to hit all four demographic quadrants and please everybody. Not hair is out of place and most scenes seem airless.

Aladdin has problems but at least is light on its feet, thanks to director Guy Ritchie’s anything-goes approach and Will Smith leaning hard on his charm. Continue reading “REVIEW: Aladdin Gets a PC Makeover”

REVIEW: Hail Satan? Makes a Strong Case for Paganism

It’s not a good sign for the Christian right when admitted Satanists come across as more likeable and reasonable than they do. I’m not even talking about those Westboro Baptist Church freaks, but zealots advocating for the reunification of church and state.

Hail Satan? is not your standard doc denouncing satanic practices as it was so fashionable a couple of decades ago. The film instead focuses on recent challenges to freedom of religion in the United States.

The institution at the center of the movie is the Satanic Temple, a fast growing movement close to reaching all continents, but struggling with their success. Imagine trying to shape an organization founded on anarchic principles. Interestingly, the members interviewed for the documentary don’t believe in Satan. They are anti-religion: Black mass is not an invocation, but a repudiation of traditional rituals. Continue reading “REVIEW: Hail Satan? Makes a Strong Case for Paganism”

Sunday Matinee: Nightfall

At a bus stop a man named Jim (Aldo Ray) gives a light to a man named Ben (James Gregory). Ben leaves on a bus and Jim goes to a bar where he meets Marie (Anne Bancroft), a model who borrows five dollars from Jim.

They make a date and Marie gives Jim her name and address. Jim runs into two men John (Brian Keith) and Red (Rudy Bond). They want their money – $350,000 and Jim claims he doesn’t know where it is.
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DVD REVIEW: The Discomfort of Dragged Across Concrete

There was a period during the 70’s in which nihilistic, misogynistic violence was a box office draw. One could argue not much has changed, but if you have seen movies by Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs), Don Siegel (Dirty Harry) or Michael Winner (Death Wish), you know there is something uniquely nasty about these flicks: A disregard for every perceived minority, naked belief in white privilege and a sense that violence is necessary to preserve the status quo are the predominant characteristics.

It would be easy to discard these movies if they weren’t as captivating as they are. Narratively sound, these 70’s action thrillers were misguided, but had a clarity of purpose that’s lacking in today’s cinema. Watching them today, there’s something sickly refreshing about a feature that hasn’t endured three rounds of sanitization by the way of focus groups and executive notes.

Enter S. Craig Zahler.

Early on a horror specialist (I was a champion of the terrifying Asylum Blackout), Zahler has evolved into the single representative of this trend at work today. Not a single one of his movies (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) has had a significative theatrical release, yet if you’ve seen them, they’re probably engraved in your brain. Continue reading “DVD REVIEW: The Discomfort of Dragged Across Concrete”

Sunday Matinee: My Name Is Julia Ross

The Criterion Channel debuted this week and it’s an amazing streaming service. It’s everything that I want from a streaming service. Classic cinema, behind the scenes features and so much more. My watch list has enough to keep me busy for the next three years.

While the service is home to Criterion’s stable of cinema they also have special films available for limited time. This month’s is Columbia’s film noir collection. 11 dark and gritty film noirs to watch. I’ve watched the first on the list My Name Is Julia Ross.
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Sunday Matinee: Last Hurrah For Chivalry

Before we get into this week’s Sunday Matinee, Shazam opened this weekend and from the sounds of it has done pretty good for itself. It’s been quite a while since the original Captain Marvel has graced the big screen and here’s my old post about his first adventures.

The Criterion Channel will soon be here, actually tomorrow April 8th and this was their last week of their free movie of the week to charter subscribers. This week’s movies were the 1979 John Woo kung fu film Last Hurrah for Chivalry and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Today’s Sunday Matinee is the early John Woo.
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Sunday Matinee: Detour

As Criterion counts down to it’s April 8 launch of their new streaming service this week’s movie of the week happens to be an old Sunday Matinee, The Fabulous Baron Munchausen so I’m going back a week to last week’s movie of the week the excellent 1945 film noir Detour.

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer the follows poor piano player Al Roberts (Tom Neal) is a disheveled burned out looking person. He gets dropped off at a diner where he hears a particular song. He flashes back to how he got to where he is.
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REVIEW: Dumbo Doesn’t Fly, But Hovers

It’s no news to anybody Tim Burton’s films are hit or miss. I happen to appreciate some of his less celebrated work (Mars Attacks, Dark Shadows) and have no patience for some of his big hits (Alice in Wonderland, Big Fish). Dumbo sits somewhere in the middle, two thirds a sentimental triumph, one third an undercooked heist that would be more at home in a Michael Bay movie.

A more “realistic” take on the 1941 Disney classic, this Dumbo doesn’t have anthropomorphized animals (although all of them cameo or are referenced to, even those controversial crows). The story is driven by humans, specifically the Farrier family. The father, Holt (Colin Farrell), has returned from the war maimed and his spirit shattered. His kids have been forced to mature earlier than they should, while sheltered by the circus community. The three of them reconnect over a baby elephant with freakishly large ears.

Dumbo goes from pariah to main attraction the moment he starts using his ears to take flight. The act attracts the attention of a circus mogul (Michael Keaton), who claims to be an artist at heart, but turns out to be another greedy capitalist who Zuckerbergs everybody. Continue reading “REVIEW: Dumbo Doesn’t Fly, But Hovers”