Saturday, July 2, 2022

What I've Caught Up With, June 2022

No real theme this time, and admittedly, the first movie on this list isn't one that anyone told me to watch. Instead, that was the choice for June's movie of the month at my library movie club. Otherwise, just a couple knocked off. My last quarter of classes was brutal, which explains the relative lack of movies in general for me during June.

What I’ve Caught Up With, June 2022:
Film: Marry Me (2022)

Years ago, when I actually read webcomics, I came across one where a Britney Spears-like pop singer who, in a moment of panic during a concert, accepts the proposal of a guy holding a sign that says “Marry Me” he is holding for a friend. While the basic premise of Marry Me is slightly altered, this big-screen version of that webcomic manages to keep a lot of the original premise, putting Jennifer Lopez in as the pop star and Owen Wilson as the hapless math teacher who marries her almost on a dare. Nothing happens here that you don’t expect, but it’s ultimately pretty harmless. That said, your life will be exactly the same if don’t ever watch it, too.

Film: Albino Alligator (1996)

Albino Alligator is a heist film with a very odd provenance. The cast is a solid one, but it still managed to earn a Razzie nomination for Faye Dunaway. It’s also the directorial debut of Keven Spacey, something that doesn’t play as well today as it did in 1996. Three men (Matt Dillon, William Fichtner, and Gary Sinise) are in the middle of a robbery gone bad. They wind up in a basement bar. Soon enough, the police are outside, but it turns out that they aren’t who the cops really want. As mentioned, Faye Dunaway is in this, as are Skeet Ulrich, M. Emmet Walsh, Joe Mantegna, John Spencer, Frankie Faison, and Viggo Mortensen. It’s not bad, but it’s not worth a second watch.

Film: The Andromeda Strain (1971)

I’ve seen a version of this story before, but I figured it was time to watch the original. A satellite crashes near a tiny New Mexico town. A recovery team goes in and discovers that virtually the entire population of the town is dead, having died instantly. Further investigation shows that their blood has turned to powder. Suspecting that “something” came back with the satellite, experts are called in to investigate. And what happens is that we watch them investigate. That’s literally it—it’s “Science Experiment: The Movie.” The story is an interesting idea and there are moments of genuine tension here, but it’s generally about as exciting as watching a board meeting.

Film: The Big Street (1942)

When you see Henry Fonda on the billing, you expect him to be the perfect good guy. When you see Lucille Ball, you expect a comedy. So it’s a bit of a surprise when The Big Street gives us Fonda as an associate of low-rent gamblers and criminals and Ball as a vain and vicious nightclub singer. The Big Street is as melodramatic as it can possibly be, and while the story of a guy pining for a woman who barely registers him even while he is caring for her after an terrible accident is serious weepy drama, there’s some comedy here, too. It also features the first appearance of a character named Nicely Nicely Johnson (Eugene Pallette), who is paired with a comic Agnes Moorehead. It’s an oddball film, but not bad. And for whatever reason, it’s always a shock to me just how much of a knockout Lucille Ball really was.

Film: Female (1933)

I’m not sure what I expected with the sexual politics on this one, but yikes is this hard to watch in a lot of respects. Alison (Ruth Chatterton) runs a car company that she inherited from her father. She also treats men like men treat women, using them for a casual fling and casting them aside. If some of those men work for her, what of it? If they get too attached, she just transfers them away. She meets her match in an engineer named Jim (George Brent), and suddenly, she can’t do a damned thing without him. What starts out as female empowerment ends in something approaching Gilead by the end, a tough thing to take in current political circumstances.


  1. I have seen Albino Alligator but don't remember much of it other than it used to play on IFC (when it was known as the Independent Film Channel) a lot. Yeah, I'd stay away from Kevin Spacey. I think that was an OK film and it was way better than.... BLECH... Beyond the Sea which I fucking loathed. That was one of the worst fucking movies I had ever seen in my life. So smug, so pandering.

    1. Probably the best indication of whether or not you should or shouldn't watch Albino Alligator is that Jessica Lange was nominated for a Razzie for it.

  2. I saw and review The Andromeda Strain as an Off-List movie for 1971. While a bit underwhelmed i do remember being somewhat more positive than you. I think the science lab was pretty awesome but they got too little out of the story. It would probably have worked well as a TV series.

    1. It's not bad, and in the right mood, it might even be really good. It doesn't feel like so much a movie as a series of meetings, though. For something that more or less has the fate of humanity in the balance, it's pretty tame.

  3. I watched The Andromeda Strain for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. It definitely doesn't have a lot of plot and there is a LOT of talking, but I enjoyed its emphasis on science, and early seventies sci-fi tech in a movie really works for me.

    1. I think that covers it pretty well. It plays like a series of really serious board meetings.

  4. I’ve seen all but the first, with Owen Wilson in the lead it is highly unlikely that I ever will. His allure has always escaped me.

    I really liked Albino Alligator. It’s no masterpiece but has a cool feel and setting and I’m a fan of ever single cast member. I’m surprised about the Razzie nom for Faye. I thought she was good, not award level or anything but I’ve seen many far worse performances (including some by Faye!)

    I LOVE The Andromeda Strain!!! But then I love procedurals and science so that might have something to do with my fondness for it. I own it and watch it a couple of times every year. I also love the clean 60’s look of it and that they cast to what real scientists would probably look like, for example Kate Reid’s disheveled and cranky Dr. Levitt vs. say Raquel Welch’s Cora in Fantastic Voyage (not a knock on Raquel whose performance was fine and looked amazing).

    The Big Street has a fair dose of incredulity (Fonda is SUCH a doormat!…though I am sure those kinds of people exist) including the ending but it’s well put together with a cannot be beat cast. Carole Lombard was offered the lead first but had other commitments so recommended Lucy (they were extremely close friends-Lucy said that often after Carole perished in that plane crash she would appear in her dreams and advise her. One such dream led her to formulate “I Love Lucy). She is particularly good (this was her personal favorite of all her films-I favor “Lured” but she has rarely been better) and quite different from her usual self, this was the performance that caused Sinatra to suggest her as Mrs. Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate. Frankenheimer considered her but had just worked with Angela Lansbury and was set on her. It was the right choice but the possibility of what Lucy could have done with the role is fascinating. You’re right since her biggest renown came from playing an ordinary housewife it’s always a surprise to see her dolled up but Lucy was quite the glamour girl during her movie years. You should see her as a lady lion tamer all decked out in pink sequins and feathers cracking the whip over black spangled cat suit wearing chorus girls in Ziegfeld Follies!

    Female punts its ending (the Code was starting to flex its muscle a bit more and this is one of the films that suffered at its hands) but for about ¾ of its run time offers a refreshingly modern main character who plays by her own rules. LOVE the organist in her vestibule! Ruth and George were married in real life when this was made though it didn’t last long.

    1. Albino Alligator was fine, but not one I'd watch again more than likely. Despite being a series of board meetings, I probably would watch The Andromeda Strain a second time, although I'd really need to be in the mood for it.

      My first run-in with Lucille Ball in this kind of role was in Dance, Girl, Dance, where she plays a role that is similar in some ways, at least in terms of its brashness. Female could've been so good--that code ruined so damn much.

      You're missing nothing if you never see Marry Me.