Saturday, June 04, 2011

Memorial holiday binge

If I stay at home during a holiday weekend, chances are I'm going to watch some movies. This past Memorial Day weekend saw me in binge mode as I saw eight films over the three day stretch. It was a very diverse mix of movies, read on for the blow-by-blow description.

The Stalking Moon. I started the weekend off with a 1968 western starring Gregory Peck, Eva Marie Saint and Robert Forster. Kind of a pedestrian tale about a small group holed up in a remote cabin in New Mexico trying to fight off a rampaging Apache. The film takes the story and then is surprisingly low-key and gritty with a terrific score. I loved seeing a young Forster as a "half-breed" helping do battle against the Apache trying to get his son back. Also--love the poster! I think I'll start doing a monthly movie poster post as there's just so many great posters out there like this one from a lesser known western 40+ years old.

Hobo with a Shotgun. This was a midnight movie at the Circle and is the best titled film they've shown since their porn days of the 1970s/1980s. I wanted to like this exploitation throwback about a fed-up hobo who kills a bunch of nasties in a lawless, urban wasteland, but I just didn't care for it. The film, like many new releases these days, is too gleefully sadistic for my tastes. There's no nuance, no depth, no subtlety. It's just over-the-top action and dialogue that is exhausting as it tries to out gross and entertain. I did enjoy Rutger Hauer as "Hobo," but that wasn't enough to save this disappointment for me.

Until September. I've written about my crush on Karen Allen before on CineRobot, but will restate my thoughts about what a dish she was in the 1970s/80s. Allen, and her adorable freckles, was the only reason I watched this cheesy romantic drama set in Paris as Allen's character gets mixed up with a married, French cad. Not good at all, but Allen doing some nude scenes sure helped it, ha.

Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Ridiculously titled documentary from Morgan Spurlock [Super Size Me] about the tantalizing and profitable realm of product placement in movies. Very interesting premise that goes absolutely nowhere over the course of its 90 minute running time.
Spurlock thinly constructs a plot based mainly around his personality while mostly delivering pitches to various corporations. Some like the idea, some don't and every so often Spurlock will tell us actual information about his larger subject. Flimsy and could have been much, much better.

L'Amour Fou. Another documentary and a complete snoozer about fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent's life and art collection as it goes on sale at Christie's. Very little art on display as this is mostly long-time lover Pierre reminiscing about their shared life or detailed looks into Yves lavishly gorgeous houses in Morocco, Paris or in the French countryside. Despite this being deadly dull, I never realized how many ugly dresses YSL designed! All I can say is he had a phase of shoulder pad explosions on far too many articles of clothing.

Working Girl. Fourth film of the day [and by far the best] was this underrated 1988 comedy from director Mike Nichols. One of two good Melanie Griffith movies in her career [yes, she's only done two good ones! Something Wild is the other.], Working Girl has Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Cusack and Alec Baldwin rounding out a stellar cast. The film is a wonderful mix of sweet and serious as Griffith plays a lowly secretary trying to climb the corporate ladder despite her accent, gigantic 1980s hairstyle and non-flashy resume. Great ending.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams. I'm done with 3D. I've tried a few times with the recent onslaught, but nearly always I get a crushing headache or end up nauseous. I thought before I saw this that a Werner Herzog documentary about French cave paintings wouldn't do the same things to my brain, but I was wrong. All the usual sorts of head trauma 3D unleashes on me started early on with dizziness and nausea. I even had to shut my eyes some of the time to try and stave off the symptoms of an early-warning migraine. 3D sucks. Plus, it was a $10 matinee in Tulsa which explains why the film studios are shoving the 3D down our throats--easy cash money for them. The film? Too long to be perfectly honest. This could have been an hour instead of ninety minutes and missed nothing except some of Werner's bizarre tangents [which are always entertaining by the way so its best to leave that stuff in!] or the strange visual of the albino crocs near the end. Maybe it was just the increasing pain in my skull caused by 3D that made me want to exit the theatre and not Werner?

Dog Day Afternoon. I'm trying to re-watch some Sidney Lumet since his recent death and this is one of his "musts" from his 1970s heyday. Starting off with a couple of minutes of New York City love from Lumet as he shows a bunch of places to get the flavor of the city saturated before jumping into Al Pacino and John Cazale attempting to rob a Brooklyn bank. Things don't go all that great for the inept pair and they are soon in a massive stand-off with the police, FBI, press and what looks like a huge portion of the neighborhood on the sidewalks watching the action. The film takes a progressive twist about an hour into it regarding why Al wants to rob the bank. I'd like to been able to see it in 1975 unaware of the twist and gauged how the audience of that era reacted to it. I also like the little statements the film has about media as the stand-off ensues. A harbinger of what was to come from Lumet as his scathing satire Network was coming up in the next year. Absolutely top notch. Kind of funny that the three best films I saw on my binge were released in 1975, 1988 and 1968.


Eva said...

I liked Melanie Griffith in that Jeremy Irons Lolita version. Of course she isn't "around" for very long in it.

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Yes, she wasn't bad in that...I didn't really like the movie though. WORKING GIRL and SOMETHING WILD are the two of hers that I liked AND she was good. Maybe I should re-watch CHERRY 2000? Ha.

Detrola said...

Loved the nuance of Griffith's character in Working Girl. She was at times both dumb and smart, a pushover and manipulator, saavy and naive, etc.
Well played.