Sunday Matinee: The Burglar

Nat Harbin (Dan Duryea) sees a newsreel that tells how a spiritualist named Sister Sarah (Phoebe Mackay) has inherited a priceless necklace. Nat sends Gladden (Jayne Mansfield) to case the joint and pose as an admirer.

Gladden tells the gang where the necklace is and Sister Sarah’s evening habits. They plan a heist to steal the necklace.
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Sunday Matinee: Drive A Crooked Road

Richard Quine was an actor who starred in variety of movies from the 1930s and 40s. He moved into directing movies in the 1950s. His first films were musicals and he collaborated with screenwriter Blake Edwards with a couple of them.

In 1954 the two shifted gears and made a gritty film noir film Drive A Crooked Road.
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REVIEW: The Biggest Little Farm Is Hipster Heaven

It’s an all too common pipedream: Trading the rat race for the simpler life, one in which you cultivate your own food, grow your own eggs and work your patch of land from sunrise to sundown. Nobody follows through because, as delightful as it sounds, we know farming is a lot harder than this hipster visualization of heaven. Heck, I can’t even grow basil on my balcony.

The Biggest Little Farm chronicles seven years in the life of a couple who actually did it. Inspired by their rescue dog —too loud for apartment living— John and Molly Chester traded their L.A. apartment for 200 all-but-abandoned acres not far from the city. It wasn’t a blind bet: John turned this move into a project open to investors and people who want to learn how to farm. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Biggest Little Farm Is Hipster Heaven”

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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