What I’ve Caught Up With, March 2022:
Film: The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1976)
A Negro Leagues baseball movie with a very good cast, this does follow some pretty standard sports movies tropes. A group of Negro League players are upset with the way they are being treated and so decide to create their own team and barnstorm around the country. Naturally, the owners of the other teams want to stop them. Wacky hilarity and the sort of nastiness you would expect from corrupt owners ensues. There are real-world parallels here, with characters representing Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Jackie Robinson playing on the barnstorming team. It’s fun, but ultimately not a lot more than fun.
Film: The Ninth Configuration (1980)
William Peter Blatty’s first film as a director, but the second story in his Faith Trilogy (along with The Exorcist and The Exorcist III/Legion), we are in a mental hospital dealing with patients who are suffering trauma from the Vietnam War and other military projects. New psychiatrist Hudson Kane (Stacy Keach) finds a number bizarre afflictions besetting his patients, but he has is own problems as well. A tremendous cast includes Scott Wilson, Ed Flander, Neville Brand, Robert Loggia, and Moses Gunn, who is always critically underused. This feels like a stage play, but it’s really just a head-first dive into insanity with the possibility of redemption.
Film: Knightriders (1981)
Only George Romero could pull off something this completely insane. A troupe of motorcycle-riding knights led by King William (Ed Harris with hair!) have a traveling Ren Faire-styled show that features jousting tournaments atop motorcycles. While Billy wants to keep this Camelot fantasy alive, rival Morgan (Tom Savini) is tempted by the promise of fortune and fame. It’s bonkers, and it’s inexplicably almost 150 minutes long. It’s also surprisingly gay-positive for 1981. Seriously, the jousting tournaments are an insurance nightmare and they’d all be jailed and bankrupt in a month, but it’s a hell of a crazy fantasy while it lasts. Ultimately, the fantasy has to end, as does the movie, but there are parts of it that are rather beautiful.
Film: Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Batman’s second Robin is brutally beaten and killed by Joker. Soon after, a new crime boss appears in Gotham and starts taking over the drug trade around the city. Specifically, he goes after a criminal called Black Mask, who looks very much like Marvel’s Red Skull as a crime boss. Anyway, it’s soon evident that this new criminal, who goes by the name Red Hood, is highly trained and knows a bit more about Batman than is comfortable. It’s a good enough story, and it features a nice rogues gallery that includes Ra’s al Ghul and an appearance from the Riddler as well as a moment or two from Nightwing. It’s good, but I’m not convinced it’s great.
Film: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
I haven’t caught up with all of the Marvel movies and I haven’t come close to all of the limited series shows, but I like Shang-Chi as a character, even if the traditional Shang-Chi isn’t an Americanized valet. Still, the martial arts action is fun and I do have a love for that, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s really nicely cast—seeing Michele Yeoh and Tony Leung is always a good thing, and I’ll watch almost anything with Benedict Wong in it, even if he’s not in it that much. It's fine, but so much of it doesn’t seem to fit in with what we have in the MCU; it almost feels like part of a completely different series. It’s mid-tier, and because of that, kind of disappointing.
Film: Young Guns
How do you make a generation interested in westerns again? Cast a collection of their generation’s young stars and hand them revolvers. Young Guns calls itself the most accurate version of the story of Billy the Kid, and it does follow the basics of the Lincoln County War. The draw here isn’t the history, but the presence of Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, and a few others riding horses and shooting pistols. It’s honestly better than it has any right to be, but don’t kid yourself; it’s not any better than just fun and pretty good. It inspired a sequel and almost certainly the gender-swapped Bad Girls.
I really liked Shang-Chi as I felt it was different in comparison to some of the films from Marvel as it is really a homage to martial arts films but with some humor. Of the four films from Marvel that came out last year, I think this one is almost the best of the four as Spider-Man: No Way Home I think is better though it changes all the time.ReplyDelete
I do like Young Guns and I tend to forget there's a cameo from Tom Cruise in that film though I still much prefer Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid as far as anything that involves Billy the Kid.
I think I had higher expectations of Shang-Chi than I should have, but as I say, I like the character a great deal. I was a Master of Kung Fu fan during my comic book days.Delete
Young Guns is fun and sometimes that's all you really need.
I don't think I ever saw that Batman one, I should look for that.ReplyDelete
It tends to be thought of more highly than I give it credit for, so it's likely your mileage may vary.Delete
Knightriders!! What a weird, strange and terrible movie while still being fascinating in its absurdity. It seems incredible that the star of such an enterprise would be an actor as respected as Ed Harris but I’m fairly sure this was right at the beginning of his film career and ya gotta start somewhere!ReplyDelete
I liked the Bingo Long Traveling…when I watched it long ago but that once was enough. Good cast.
I’m sure I’ve seen Ninth Configuration but honestly have no recollection of it at all.
Young Guns is fun even if it has some problems, much like the Brat Pack version of The Three Musketeers (now that’s a fun movie of almost no heft-save Rebecca De Mornay’s actually giving a performance as Milady de Winter). Not designed to be an accurate portrayal of events just a flashy entertainment. Sometimes that’s enough.
There is a strange beauty to Knightriders, a bizarre fantasy that absolutely doesn't work, but it's certainly interesting to watch. Also, shortly after Knightriders, Harris was in a Romero-directed segment in Creepshow, so Romero was important in Harris's early career.Delete
I agree on Bingo Long. It was fine, and I don't need to see it again. Honestly, I'm probably there with Young Guns at this point. It's fun, but it's pretty frothy.
The Ninth Configuration is odd and dark. It's a morality play more than anything else, but it goes in interesting directions. It's not exciting, but it's worth seeing.