Saturday, February 18, 2017

Denver Hillbillies

Film: The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

Don’t tell me that I don’t make sacrifices for this blog. My Blu-ray player has evidently gone the way of the dodo, which meant that I wasn’t able to watch the movie I had planned today. Instead, I’m stuck pulling something off the DVR. Normally, on a night when I’m alone in the house, it would be a chance to watch something that my family can’t see—films like Blue is the Warmest Color or Last House on the Left come to mind. In this case, I decided on one that I’d be embarrassed to be caught watching by my family for a different reason: The Unsinkable Molly Brown. I put up with some shit for you folks. Please acknowledge that.

Now, I’m not going to get all “I hate musicals” on you here, although that’s certainly a direction I could go. The Unsinkable Molly Brown is clearly a most musical-y musical with everyone on screen playing for the back row. But no, there are other reasons for me to dislike this film that are absolutely more legitimate, although the absolute feast that everyone makes of the scenery at all times does rank pretty high. The Unsinkable Molly Brown features one of the most unpleasant title characters I’ve run across in a long time, at least in terms of characters that I’m supposed to actually like and root for. What press agents and the like would call “spunk” in this case is something I’m more apt to call a painful need for attention.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Best Original Screenplay 1981

The Contenders:

Absence of Malice
Arthur
Atlantic City
Chariots of Fire (winner)
Reds

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Today's Special

Film: Fried Green Tomatoes
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

Fried Green Tomatoes was a hard sell for me. It’s a movie I tried to watch some time ago and didn’t get past the first 20 minutes. It’s also one I’ve checked out of the library more than once but haven’t watched. Knowing it was due back to the library in a couple of days, I figured I’d grit my teeth and get on with it. I was not looking forward to it, but knew that I had to watch it at some point, and today seemed like a good enough day to get through it.

For what it’s worth, one thing I’m willing to do is admit when I’m wrong, and I was wrong about Fried Green Tomatoes. I’m not precisely sure when it happened, but at some point in the watching, I realized that I was enjoying the story, and by the end, I realized I liked this quite a bit. It snuck up on me. I didn’t expect to enjoy myself, and ended up liking it pretty well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Horror: Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural

Film: Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

I’ve heard of Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (which I’ll be calling Lemora from this point forward until the very end), but I knew nothing more than it was a vampire movie before watching it. It doesn’t start like a vampire horror movie, though. We have a man walking in on what is presumably his wife with another man and shooting them both down. He runs off and gets in an accident. Then, apparently we jump forward in time and are introduced to Lila Lee (Cheryl Smith). Lila is now the ward of a church run by an unnamed reverend (played by director Richard Blackburn). She’s known in the area for her singing voice, and she sings in the church regularly.

Out of nowhere, Lila gets a letter that tells her to come visit her father, who is ill and about to die. She runs away from the church and hops a bus to a town called Astaroth. On the way, the bus (of which she is the only passenger) gets attacked by creatures in a swamp leading to the town. The creatures are vampire-like, but also appear to be mindless. Lila is rescued from the creatures by a woman named Lemora (Lesley Gilb), who takes Lila back to her house. Lila is left on her own for some time, but she eventually seems to catch the fancy of her new host.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day, Mom

Film: Sons and Lovers
Format: Internet video on The Nook.

Author D.H. Lawrence is best known for Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which gives the man a particular reputation. I’m not sure what I expected going into Sons and Lovers, but I think I expected something more explicit than what I got. Don’t get me wrong; Sons and Lovers is filled with a weird sexual tension, but it’s a tension that seems to be sublimated throughout, something that exists mostly under the surface. This is also one of the most Freudian movies I’ve seen in a long time. Oedipal stuff is frequently creepy, and that’s right in the wheelhouse of this one.

In the early 20th Century in a small mining town, young Paul Morel (Dean Stockwell) finds himself out of place. Interested in art and literature, he doesn’t seem to fit in with his father Walter (Trevor Howard) or his brother Arthur (Sean Barrett), both of whom work in the mines. Paul’s talent for art has made him a favorite of his mother Gertrude (Wendy Hiller). Well, that, and as the youngest of her three sons, he’s the one that she has found the easiest to manipulate. Paul is definitely and completely under the thumb of his mother, who disapproves of pretty much everyone who isn’t Paul. This is especially true of Paul’s attachment to local girl Miriam Leivers (Heather Sears).

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Sting Lite

Film: Paper Moon
Format: HBO Go on rockin’ flatscreen.

I’ve done a couple of Oscar wrap-ups for 1973 categories, and in both cases, I’ve been told that I should really watch Paper Moon. Well, I’ve finally rectified that omission in my viewing history, and those who recommended it were correct. It’s a lot of fun. It’s interesting that this came out in the same year as The Sting. Both are movies that take place in the 1930s and both are essentially about con artists. The main difference is that The Sting is about an elaborate long con while Paper Moon is about a series of short cons, and also about a relationship that at least mirrors that of a father and a daughter.

A man with the unlikely and obviously fake name of Moses Pray (Ryan O’Neal) arrives late at a funeral for a woman he knew in the Biblical sense. There are only a couple of mourners, who think that Moze might be the father of the woman’s surviving daughter, Addie (Tatum O’Neal). Regardless, they ask him to take the girl to her aunt, who happens to be her last surviving relative. Eventually, Moze agrees, seeing this as a way to make a few quick dollars. On their way out of town, Moze blackmails the man who killed Addie’s mother in a car accident for $200, about half of which he spends on his car. He then buys the girl a train ticket to her aunt’s home town.