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”

Sunday Matinee: God Told Me To

Writer/director Larry Cohen passed away this weekend at the age of 77. Cohen started his career writing for television in the 1960s before moving on to directing movies in the 1970s.

He directed such blaxploitation films as Black Caesar and Hell Up in Harlem in the early 1970s before moving on to b-horror movies. In 1974 he made the excellent but cheesy It’s Alive. He would make two sequels to the series. He also directed the very entertaining Q.
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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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