Blog

Sunday Matinee: The Baby

Social worker Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) has a new case. The Wadsworth family. Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman) has two grown daughters Germaine Wadsworth (Marianna Hill) and Alba Wadsworth (Suzanne Zenor) who live with her and her mentally disabled son Baby (David Mooney).

Baby is a grown man in his 20s but lives and is treated as an infant ever since his father left after he was born. The Wadsworth all live off of Baby’s disability cheques and none of them work. Ann seems to be obsessed with the case and constantly is checking in on the household and how Mrs. Wadsworth and her daughters treat Baby.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Baby”

Sunday Matinee: The Satanic Rites Of Dracula

I have watched a lot of Hammer horror films over the years and in particular I have watched a lot of their Dracula films. Hammer made nine Dracula films in total and Christopher Lee only starred in seven of them.

The five that Lee starred in weren’t too bad. Some of them were better than others but overall the Dracula films weren’t as good as Hammer’s Frankenstein films. Today’s Sunday Matinee is Lee’s last Dracula film, 1973’s The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

All the Hammer Dracula movies were gothic period pictures until the 1970s when they foolishly decided to update the series with Dracula A.D. 1972. Peter Cushing returned as Van Helsing for the first time since the second film The Brides of Dracula which didn’t have Dracula in it at all. Dracula A.D. 1972 starts off with Dracula and Van Helsing fighting to the death on carriage which crashes and kills them both. A servant of Dracula buries some of his ashes near Van Helsing’s grave. 100 years later Van Helsing’s descendant and his granddaughter (Stephanie Beacham) are living in London. Van Helsing’s daughter hangs out with a group hippies, one who is Dracula’s servant’s descendant and they have a Satanic ritual that resurrects the Count into the 1970’s. Dracula makes some vampires. The police get involved and we find out that vampires can’t take a shower. Clean flowing water kills them. Yup. Vampires have to take baths. Eventually Van Helsing stakes Dracula in a final battle…again.

That leads us to The Satanic Rites of Dracula which takes place two years after Dracula A.D. 1972. MI5 has been spying on a Satanic cult that has several powerful members of Parliament. Their agent has been captured and tortured but he escapes and informs his superiors just before he dies. MI5 finds out that their boss is involved with the cult and decide to investigate off the books using Scotland Yard. Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) returns (he was the cop Dracula A.D. 1972) and suggests bringing in Van Helsing and his daughter (now played by Joanna Lumley). Van Helsing goes to talk to one of the members of the cult that he knows to be a prominent and Noble Prize wining scientist (Freddie Jones). The scientist has created a new super version of the bubonic plague. Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is back and running an evil corporation and the cult and intends to destroy the world.

The final fight is pretty weak and while Cushing would return one more time as Van Helsing, Lee was done with Dracula with this film. It’s not as terrible as the previous film, at times it’s pretty entertaining and Warner Archive has just released the movie on blu-ray.

Sunday Matinee: The Cheap Detective

After the success of Murder By Death writer Neil Simon and director Robert Moore would reteam for another comedy spoof this time focusing on the gritting film noir crime films starring Humphrey Bogart. Peter Falk would return playing a Sam Spade like character this time caught up trying to solve his partner’s murder while getting entangled in a Maltese Falcon like caper.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Cheap Detective”

Sunday Matinee: Murder By Death

An old mansion in the country is getting ready for some guests for a special night. What makes the night so special is that there is going to be a murder and the guests are the greatest detectives in the world.

Written by Neil Simon and directed by Robert Moore this comedy pokes fun at the classic detective mystery. From the opening credits drawn by Charles Addams (whose art is also the movie poster) the film has a macabre but fun sense of humour. The blind butler Alec Guinness tries to get things ready for the guests while dealing with a deaf mute cook, Nancy Walker. Soon the guests start to arrive.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Murder By Death”

Sunday Matinee: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Spider-Man has a long history of being an animated cartoon starting from 1967. He reappeared in a 1981 cartoon series called Spider-Man and at the same in another series called Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Spidey would then have a long running series in the 1990s called Spider-Man followed by a short lived series called Spider-Man: The New Animated Series in 2003 which followed the continuity of the 2002 live action film.

In 2008 The Spectacular Spider-Man aired which was replaced with Ultimate Spider-Man in 2012. The current animated series, just called Spider-Man started 2017 and is still on the air. Phew that’s a lot of Spider-Man.

Which leads to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This is a fantastic movie. It’s amazingly animated, the story is full of heart and humour and it’s the best Spider-Man movie.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse”

REVIEW: At Eternity’s Gate Dives Into Van Gogh’s Psyche

Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate.

Granted, there is no shortage of Vincent van Gogh’s biopics. Just last year audiences were treated to the gorgeous, underwhelmingly written Loving VincentAt Eternity’s Gate takes a different approach, one focused on Vincent’s drive, as opposed to his mental health. Of course the signposts are there, but the movie makes a noticeable effort to keep the assorted tragedies that befell Vincent at bay.

As per At Eternity’s Gate, Vincent (Willem Dafoe) was a man ahead of his time. This is not necessarily a good thing when you are a starving artist and impressionism is all the rage. Following advice by Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac), Van Gogh trades the increasingly toxic Parisian scene for the tranquility of Arles in the South of France.

While the painter clashes constantly with the town dwellers, the period is particularly prolific. During his time there, Van Gogh produces “Bedroom in Arles”, “The Night Café”, and a number of self-portraits. Unfortunately, his ongoing quarrels with friends and neighbours and his “break-up” with Gauguin send him on a downward spiral. Utter loneliness plays a bigger part on Van Gogh’s fate than any other factor, including mental unrest.

Director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) depicts Van Gogh as a delicate soul that’s easily rattled. Likely because of his background as a plastic artist, Schnabel succeeds at capturing the drive that kept Van Gogh going, despite the scorn of the general public and indifference of his peers. The filmmaker’s obvious regard for his subject is manifest throughout, to the point of keeping the self-mutilation bit off-screen (in fairness, the ear thing has become an obnoxious trope).

While 25 years older than the painter when he died, Willem Dafoe is perfect for the part, the right mix of helpless and mercurial. Less fortunate is the casting of baby-faced Rupert Friend as Van Gogh’s barely younger brother. Schnabel brings back actors from his previous films for supporting roles, but the one who fares the best is a new hire: Mads Mikkelsen as the priest who runs the asylum where Van Gogh is committed. Compassionate and all, he doesn’t think much of the artist’s work and lets him know it. A rare moment of levity in a film carrying a heavy heart. 3.5/5 planets.

At Eternity’s Gate is now playing at the Roxy Theatre.

Sunday Matinee: Spider-Man

Everyone’s favourite neighbourhood webslinger is back in theatres this week with an animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Marvel Comics has been dominating movie screens for almost two decades now but considering that Marvel has been around for 79 years or so it has taken a very long time for Marvel to get their superheroes to the big screen. Spider-Man, who debuted in the comics in 1962, made it on to TV in the form of a cartoon in 1967. The shows theme song is still remembered today and while the animation was extremely limited the show is entertaining.

There were more TV series throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s both animated and live action but Spider-Man was finally made into a live action movie in 2002 to great success. That success was followed up with a sequel in 2004 and really crappy sequel to that in 2007. Sony would reboot the franchise in 2012 with a sequel in 2014 before turning to Marvel for help which led to another reboot in 2017 which added that Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic universe.

Disney bought Marvel Comics in 2009 and while the Marvel Cinematic movies have dominated the box office and brought Disney billions of dollars it’s weird that Disney, a company that started out as an animation company has not taken the opportunity to make an animated movie with all the Marvel characters that they own. Instead Sony has gone and beat them to it with a very well received animated movie.

Sunday Matinee: 2001: A Space Odyssey

I have previously covered 2001: A Space Odyssey for Sunday Matinee but with movie opening at the Kramer IMAX theatre for the month and having watched it there I had to revisit it.

The movie is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and what a way to celebrate the movie. I love this movie. It’s brilliant and amazing and it has to be seen on the big screen. Shot in Super Panavision 70 the movie was made to be seen on the big screen. And it looks phenomenal.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: 2001: A Space Odyssey”

Sunday Matinee: Performance

Nicolas Roeg passed away this weekend at the age of 90. I’ve covered a couple of his films over the years like Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth and Bad Timing. Today I’m looking at his first film 1970’s Performance.

Roeg worked as a cinematographer for most of the 1960s and he was brought on to Performance again for his cinematography skills. First time director Donald Cammell was Roeg’s co-director. Cammell would go on to direct Demon Seed while Roeg would go to direct some brilliant movies throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Performance”

Ralph Breaks the Internet, from the Inside

Vanellope von Schweetz and the Disney princesses.

Among the many qualities of the Wreck It Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, the attention to detail is at the top, alongside an age-appropriate message against co-dependence. The film places the leads –the titular Ralph and Sugar Rush’s champion Vanellope von Schweetz– in the world wide web. The hectic vastness of the internet is impressively represented, both the seemingly infinite number of offerings and corresponding visitors.

For a year and a half, animator Benson Shum worked mostly on the Ralph character (allowing him to ‘act’ and ‘emote’), but also participated on the rest: “Even if it’s a background character, you want to animate it as well as the front ones.” Vanellope presents additional challenges, as she glitches and pops up at a different side of the screen within a second: “We have to anticipate her movements. There is a lot of thought into how we get her from this side of the screen to that side. We have a tool that makes glitch lines, pixilation in between.” Continue reading “Ralph Breaks the Internet, from the Inside”