Week 6 / June 19-25, 2017

Rankings (The It’s-All-Good-Until-The-Final-Two Division)

Smile (1975)

About a million reasons why this film is firmly in the top spot for the week, but, right now, let’s go with guacamole dip.

Sweet Revenge (1976)

As not the biggest Grease fan you’re likely to come across, I was blown away by Stockard Channing here. It’s a bravura performance, and she’s solely responsible for twisting one of my least favorite subgenres (car/car chase films) into something quirky and endearing.

Diggstown (1992)

Another early ’90s film doing its part to win me over, and, sans its paint-by-numbers score, almost a perfect popcorn film. If you don’t get gut-pangs for good, glossy ’90s cinema with this, you’ll want to check your pulse. Seeing it alongside Smile made me–for about the seventh time–reconsider my assessment of Michael Ritchie. I guess I really like him, though The Candidate still makes my eye twitch when I think of skipping it on election night at the New Beverly because the doomsday stats had already oozed in during the first feature, Shampoo, and I instead decided to drive home in miserable rage.

Rancho Notorious (1952)

Fritz Lang goes West. (And gets kinky…er…kinkier.)

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He Ran All the Way (1951)

The film that killed John Garfield!*

*That’s sensationalistic, I realize, but not entirely untrue.

One Crowded Night (1940)

What he said. 

Live Like Line (2017?)

Maudlin, maudlin, maudlin, saccharine, and maudlin. And, yet, I enjoyed myself–seeing it in sneak preview form with some of the good-natured and wholly innocuous cast at the Grove.

Punk Vacation (1990)

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What you see, definitely not what you get.

 

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Week 5 / June 12-18, 2017

Rankings (From Best to Fine)

The Beguiled (1971)

Since there are an awful lot of internet think pieces floating around about this exact sentiment, I no longer feel compelled to promote the excellence of this film. I will just tease my pending take–it has a lot to do with the screenwriters and archival material–for when my dissertation is finally published as a book in the summer of 2030.

Speed (1994)

I’m having “profound” thoughts about ’90s, especially early ’90s, cinema lately, but my main take away is that I love (and severely miss) the practical locations and fx.

47 Meters Down (2017)

Always bemused by people who take a film like this to task because of the protagonist’s motivations. Personally, the only motivation I need a protagonist in a film like this to possess is the desire to get close to but not totally eaten–at least not right away–massive sharks.

Seeing this with a rabid crowd at the premiere in Westwood, from a balcony with the cast hundreds of feet below, was an added treat.

Killer Party (1986)

“It’s The Exorcist meets Friday the 13th meets Animal House!”

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“Say again?”

Gimme Danger (2016)

The films of JJ are something I enjoy–I mean, I’m hip, people–though he could’ve brought more pizzazz to this. It helped that I love The Stooges and Iggy, in whatever iteration, and could listen to Jim Osterberg talk for days. His fractured take on his American life is delicious.

Rankings (Lesser Coppola, Sofia)

Lick the Star (1998)

Seeing Sofia’s debut short projected at the New Beverly Cinema before her latest feature, with the filmmaker and Tarantino sitting feet away, is sort of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.* Loved the spiky verve of this short; it makes you excited anew for Sofia. How could it not? 

*”Sort of” because living in LA and frequenting repertory theaters means this happens about once every six months.

The Beguiled (2017)

I’ll need to see this again, in far less (ahem) beguiling settings–forgive me!–to be able to objectively assess. Liked it, though I definitely didn’t love it and I’m not entirely sure why.

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Actually had to stop the DVD viewing of this for quality–and not of the technical variety–issues. Ended up enjoying it more than those inauspicious beginnings would suggest, but would still categorize it as “Genuinely disappointing.”

Week 4 / June 5-11, 2017

Rankings (From Quite Strong to Strong to Pretty Ok to Meh)

Lillies of the Field (1963)

I love Poitier because I’m a goddamn American film fan, but I’m not quite sure how I built that foundation for love without witnessing the pure joy that is him buddying up with German nuns near my beloved Tucson, AZ. (Even recollecting about this movie made me want to quit writing this post to re-watch it–should you wonder how much I enjoyed it.)

Honeysuckle Rose (1980)

Willie Nelson performs himself.

The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)

Alan Alda’s sexuality is never something you think you’re interested in, and this movie won’t convince you otherwise, yet, despite that, it remains a minor treat.

The Black Cat (1934)

All hail Karloff. 

Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)

Minorly obsessed with this film/book–I read it one summer in Canton, OH, and that is definitely as weird as all that sounds. The film doesn’t fully achieve its lofty aims, but that doesn’t mean it won’t wreck you by the end.

For Pete’s Sake (1974)

If this movie was just its opening credits, it’d crack my top 200 films of the 1970s. (I realize that doesn’t sound impressive, but, as an aficionado of ’70s film, cracking my top 150 is pretty difficult.)

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Beyond the Gates (2016)

So pleased to see Eddie Brandt’s in a film! And honestly, given the budget and the limitations of an amateur production, they strung together a decent film. Naturally, like anyone who haunts Eddie Brandt’s, I assume I could’ve done a much, much better job.

If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (2017)

I love old people. I especially love old comedians. I, in particular, love the old comedians featured here (Reiner, Brooks, Lear). And the other old non-comedians, who teach us stuff about the human spirit and whatnot. I would’ve gladly watched the 60 Minutes piece on the above. Sadly, they instead released it in the form of a 90 minute documentary.

 

Week 3 / May 29-June 4, 2017

Rankings (From Grand Poo-bah to Lesser Poo-bah)

The Godfather (1972)

There’s nothing new or interesting to say about this masterpiece, especially anytime you’re fortunate enough to see it in a theater (this being my second theatrical viewing because L.A. is Valhalla of repertory screenings). This screening, however, was a TCM-sponsored Fathom event, which meant my theater seat doubled as an Applebee’s Eazy-Boy. Looking something like this:

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Also, this is why the digital revolution is only interesting when it fails*:

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*Thankfully, it was fixed before The Godfather/food-service jamboree began.

The Steel Helmet (1951)

Unsentimental and hyper-masculine, this Sam Fuller war picture will put hair on your chest–regardless of your consent!

Henry Goes Arizona (1939)

It was fun seeing the Wizard (of Oz fame)–aka, Henry Morgan–bumbling out West. Plus, I’m always partial to a 66 minute film.

More Rankings (Continued Adventures in the Three-Way Tie Division)

The Tingler (1959)

I can’t be objective with William Castle (<3), so I’m taking these films out of general contention and just listing them chronologically–which, it so happens, isn’t far off from their relative merit. If Vincent Price tripping on LSD doesn’t sound like essential viewing to you, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Homicidal (1961)

Sure, it’s a Psycho rip-off, but it’s way, way kinkier. Manages to institute genuine unease in me each time I watch it.

Strait-Jacket (1964)

Joan Crawford glammed up with jangly baubles adorning her wrists, in a grotesque parody of an aging rube, makes for some of my favorite cinema. I mean:

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