Sunday, March 30, 2014

SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #6: Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)


Running Time: 137 minutes
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino
Main Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Perla Haney-Jardine
Click here to view the trailer

WHAT IS A "SIN OF OMISSION"?
As noted many times in the recent past here at the "1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die" blog, in the next 12 - 18 months the ultimate goal of this blog will transform from 'one man's journey to watch all 1001 movies in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book' to 'one man's journey to create his own, personal canon of 1,000 favorite films and show "those 1001 people" just how it's done! Sins of Omission will become a regular feature on the blog where I'll take one film that WAS NOT included in any incarnation of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book and DOES NOT appear on the next list of 1000 films that I plan to tackle, give it a formal review and make it a permanent part of my list, which is entitled: 1000 Films You REALLY Should See Before You Die: A Personal, Ongoing Canon of My 1,000 Favorite FIlms.

ROARING RAMPAGE OF REVENGE!

Did you miss me? Something told me you guys could use some new reading material, so here I am to present you with the sixth entry in the SINS OF OMISSION series - a series that allows me the opportunity to propel some of my old favorites (pre-1001 BOOK) directly into my personal 1,000 best list, which is carefully being constructed. Since I'm currently working on an some outside projects, particularly one that involves David Carradine's Bill character, I thought I'd take the opportunity to put this one on my list. However, this will not be a new entry. On my list, KILL BILL VOL. 2 appears as one entry, combined with KILL BILL VOL. 1. Makes sense, right? Anyway, read on...


So Volume 2 picks up right where Volume 1 left off, with The Bride (Thurman) having already killed two of the five people on her Death List Five. The only three that remain are Bill (of course), his brother Budd (Madsen) and his current muse, Elle Driver (Hannah). The film begins by flashing back to that fateful wedding day (which was in fact a wedding dress rehearsal) and Bill's first appearance (onscreen) in the whole bloody affair. Bill has a talk with The Bride (whom we later learned is actually named Beatrix Kiddo), which seems to be fairly pleasant, before we learn that Bill is still harboring some sour grapes, thus sending in his team of assassins to wipe out the wedding party. Flashback to the present, as we follow The Bride as she tracks Budd, who lives in a mobile home, out in the middle of nowhere. Budd actually gets the jump on Kiddo, by unloading a shotgun blast of rock salt into her chest, right before he ties her up and buries her alive, under a grave stone marked Paula Schultz. While underground, Kiddo remembers the "cruel tutelage of Pai Mei", which actually took place years earlier, when Bill dropped her off to become the warrior she is today. She remembers how her ultra cruel instructor would make her break wood with her fists, thus allowing her to summon her teachings and break out of her coffin and crawl up out of the ground. Meanwhile, Budd makes a deal with Elle Driver - he'll give her The Bride's Hattori Hanzo sword in exchange for $1 million in cash. Elle agrees and this all leads to a showdown at Budd's mobile palace between him, Elle and the recently unearthed Bride. Of course, that's not to mention the grand finale which involves a regretful Bill.

SPOILER ALERT!


You know, speaking of The Bride crawling up out of the ground, I think that's the one thing about this movie I really don't like. I mean, why weren't we given the part of Kiddo's back story where she goes to groundhog training and learns to burrow up out of the ground? Anyway, it's nitpicky shit, but last night, when I watched this, it really took me out of the whole picture.

Besides that, I mean - how awesome is this flick? I can remember KILL BILL VOL. 1 being released on DVD about a month or so before KILL BILL VOL. 2 was to hit theaters. My brother both watched it and made plans to get our asses to the theater to see how this all wrapped up. I remember the anticipation of waiting for the Friday that this was to be released, so we could see Bill finally get what was coming to him and see Tarantino's ingenuity at play. I also remember a co-worker of mine at the time, making the critique that "you can't give me that much blood in part one and nearly none at all in part two". You see, that's the thing though. I think it's best not to think of these movies as VOLUME ONE and VOLUME TWO, but rather one big, long film. That way the blood of VOLUME ONE and the story development of VOLUME TWO can coexist and make for one exciting affair when combined.

You know, on second thought, there's another thing I hate about this movie. The fact that Kiddo doesn't actually kill either Budd, nor Elle. Elle kills Budd and Kiddo leaves Elle in the trailer, still alive when we last see her. Sure, it's assumed that she gets bitten by the snake, but we never see it and after all that Kiddo's been through, it's hard to believe that she'd actually leave a survivor, even a blind one who's alone with a black mamba. Another thing that kind of gets me (and I don't know whether I love it or hate it) is the fact that the biggest fuck up of the whole group - Budd - is the one who actually comes the closest to killing The Bride. Oh, oh, oh and another thing! What's the deal with the big fight between The Bride and Bill only lasting a total of like twelve seconds? Really? I just sat through four hours of a movie called KILL freaking BILL and you're going to give me a ten second fight scene between these two, that should've lasted at least ten minutes!? Man, it sounds like I'm crapping all over this one, but I promise, it is a favorite! I just have a tendency to really pick on the movies that I like and ones where I know the opportunity for maximum potential existed. Those are just a few things that kind of piss me off about this one.


However, it's a Tarantino flick and I'll always have a soft spot for that man's movies. He's the man that got me interested in movies and one that I'll always show up for. He's one of the few guys going today who still brings that special something when it comes to modern cinema and allows the true cinephiles to realize why they fell in love with moving pictures in the first place. I've heard the term "pure cinema" used a lot, but have never bothered to look up it's text book meaning. I have a feeling KILL BILL qualifies though. It nails perfectly everything from score to acting, dialogue to storytelling, not to mention larger than life characters (can I just say I LOVE the Elle character - Hannah NAILED it!). It provides an engaging, exciting, riveting, suspenseful, nearly flawless trip to the movies and when watched in conjunction with VOLUME ONE, as a whole, the damn thing is impossible to exclude for any list and shame on THE BOOK for leaving this volume out of every one of their editions!

RATING: 8/10  I deducted a few points for the nitpicky stuff I mentioned, but an '8' is hard to come by recently, especially by my picky ass standards.

March 30, 2014  10:53pm

Monday, March 24, 2014

665. The Big Red One (1980)


Running Time: 163 minutes
Directed By: Samuel Fuller
Written By: Samuel Fuller
Main Cast: Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward
Click here to view the trailer

Note: So I'm a little late, as I intended to have this one watched and reviewed by Friday afternoon. Turns out, I didn't feel like watching this Thursday night, nor did I feel like watching it Friday morning and after that my wife was off work and ready to spend the weekend with me, which meant no BOOK movies. The two of us were going to watch a whole bunch of new releases, but decided at the last minute to binge on Breaking Bad instead and opted to just do one movie instead, which ended up being GRAVITY (which stunk - my thoughts in the recap, at the end of the month. Anyway, I managed to slip this one into two sittings, between yesterday afternoon and last night and here we are. Before we get into the review I just want to let everyone know that, while I'm not going to take a hiatus, my appearance on the blog may be a bit more sparse than you're all used to. I was going to take a hiatus, as I'm starting to get a little burned out, but have decided to just slow down my pace instead. I really think that will do wonders for me, while still allowing me to post a reivew or two (or three) per week. Now then, over the course of the next week or so, I will be stepping away from THE BOOK to work on a couple of side projects (which I'll detail better at a later date). However, you will see me on the blog, as I plan to turn both side projects into two SIN OF OMISSION posts - more on that later in the week. Just keep your eyes peeled for some special reviews. Anyway, read on...

FULLER HAT TRICK: PART THREE OF THREE

So we come to the end and it was literally five minutes ago that I realized I watched a version of THE BIG RED ONE that was about an hour longer than the original, theatrical release. I REALLY wish I'd known that, as that could've helped to wash this one down a little easier.


I'm not going to get into a whole history lesson in detailing the plot, because honestly I just don't feel like it. All you really need to know is that this is a war movie, starring Lee Marvin as Sgt. Possum, a veteran of World War I leading a squadron through World War II. Of course, we're talking about the First Infantry Division a.k.a. The Big Red One and this particular group consists of Pvt. Griff (Hamill), Pvt. Zab (Carradine) Pvt. Vinci (Di Cicco) and Pvt. Johnson (Ward). These five seem to have lady luck riding on their shoulder, as they always seem to squeak their way out of the rough spots and end up alive. There really is no point A to point B plot, as the movie really just follows this particular squad, without giving them one, out and out mission. Think SAVING PRIVATE RYAN without the search for Pvt. Ryan.


So it's a bunch of brutes killing (not murdering) a bunch of Nazis and I'm supposed to care, why? Honestly, for a war film, it wasn't THAT bad. However, I found my mind wandering in and out, at times wanting to pay attention and catching some interesting bits and other times, just not caring in the slightest and wanting it all to just end ASAP. I will say Lee Marvin did a bang up job and managed to be an effective Sergeant, who was less brutish than your run of the mill, movie Sarge. The scene where he carries the dead child on his neck is heartwarming, as is the scene where he accepts his helmet, which has been decorated with flowers by a village child. However, the best scene in the whole flick is actually a piece of comedy and comes when the squad is responsible for delivering a woman's baby. I literally laughed out loud during that scene - great stuff.


All in all though, this was very average filmmaking, as far as I could tell. Like I said, I wish I'd known there was a shorter cut and I'd have tried my best to get my hands on that version. As it is, I'd call this cut entirely too long and unnecessarily so. I'm all for giving the filmmaker final say, but I'd have to say the studio knew what they were talking about in this instance. If you're into war films, then you'll probably love this one, as it has likable qualities (memorable characters, quotable lines). Even if you're not into war films (like me), you still may be able to pick out a moment here and there that really works and that's really all I could ask for here. I was never going to love it, but that's only because war isn't my bag.

RATING: 5/10  Let's call it right down the middle. I'd have to say that Fuller turned out to be an average filmmaker, although "Shock Corridor" was good enough to make me want to see more of his filmography.

MOVIES WATCHED: 823
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 178

COMING SOON
The Outlaw Josey Wales  (1976 - Clint Eastwood)
Wanda (1970 - Barbara Loden)
Babette's Feast (1987 - Gabriel Axel)
Hill 24 Doesn't Answer (1955 - Thorold Dickinson)
The Ear (1970 - Karel Kachyna)

March 24, 2014  5:45pm

Thursday, March 20, 2014

407. Shock Corridor (1963)


Running Time: 101 minutes
Directed By: Samuel Fuller
Written By: Samuel Fuller
Main Cast: Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans, James Best, Hari Rhodes
Click here to view the trailer

Note: It is my intention to get "The Big Red One" watched before Friday afternoon, as my wife and I have plans to spend our upcoming three day weekend (three days for me, only two for her :( Sorry, honey) catching up on some new releases that we've been wanting to see. For the curious, every once and a while my wife and I do a Redbox run and rent about 7 - 8 titles and chain watch them. This go around we picked four a piece; Her picks: "Prisoners", "Dallas Buyer's Club", "The Conjuring" and "Enough Said"; My picks: "Gravity", "Nebraska", "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle". I'm skeptical about "American Hustle", because I only kind of liked "Silver Linings Playbook" and it's the pretty much the same crew, but I'm still curious enough to see it. The rest (even her picks) I have enough of an interest in to be at least somewhat excited to see all of them. Should make for a blast of a weekend and I really can't wait. Following that, I'll be spending the majority of next week away from THE BOOK and focusing on a few films that are to be the basis of some articles I'll be writing in the coming months. One article has to do with the "Great Villain Blogathon" banner, you may have seen posted in the sidebar. I'll be writing a piece for that in April and you can see it here on the blog. The other piece will be an article I'll be penning for The Dark Pages newsletter. Both films will more than likely also get the SINS OF OMISSION treatment, which is why I say I"ll be taking a week off from THE BOOK and not a week off from the blog. Anyway, I'll talk more about those projects when the time comes, lets get down to brass tax...

FULLER HAT TRICK: PART TWO OF THREE

So after lukewarm feelings on "Pickup On South Street", I was somewhat skeptical to tackle the second Sam Fuller flick from THE BOOK. It turns out my skepticism was unwarranted, as "Shock Corridor" was a breath of fresh air, after the dankness that was "Pickup...". Read on...

Johnny asleep, dreaming about his stripper girlfriend Cathy (Constance Towers). I somehow liked the way this was shot. Although admittedly it's a style I'd normally hate, it somehow worked here.

Get a load of this premise and tell me it isn't genius material. Johnny Barrett (Breck) is a newspaper reporter looking to nab a Pulitzer Prize. The big story making the rounds, is a murder that was committed at an insane asylum, except that no one actually knows who committed the murder. It turns out that there were three witnesses, however, they were patients and they ain't talking. Enter Barrett who conjures up the idea to get himself committed to the asylum, so that he can do some first hand snooping around and get some one on one time with the witnesses and get them to crack. His girlfriend is against the idea completely, but in order to pull it all off, they'll need her cooperation. It is Johnny's idea to get his stripper girlfriend, Cathy (Towers) to pretend to be his sister who he has incestuous feelings for (complete with a story about a fetish for her hair). After a bit of coaxing, Cathy finally gives in and goes to the cops to report her would be attacker "brother". He's given an interview with the asylum's lead psychiatrist, which he's been prepped for by a psychiatrist friend and manages to convince the doctor that he needs to be kept at the hospital (success!). From there, all Johnny has to do is catch the three witnesses during brief moments of rationality and get them to tell him who did the murdering. Meanwhile, Johnny must keep up the charade of being a loony toon long enough to get the answers he needs. However, as Johnny becomes more and more accustomed to the day to day goings on of the asylum, not to mention the bevy of tests and experimental treatments he undergoes, he slips deeper and deeper into senility.

SPOILER ALERT!

Let me make it perfectly clear that I don't condone the words on the sign. I only post the picture because I thought the idea of a black white supremacist was just genius and very unique.

I mean, is it not an absolutely fresh and fantastic idea for a movie?! You wanna' talk about something being ahead of it's time, look no further than this Sam Fuller venture, which combines the dark, seedy world of a film noir with the eeriness and unknowing of a great Twilight Zone episode. I think I've learned, just after one film, that Fuller's the type of guy who isn't going to let a film go by without using as a perfectly good vehicle to get a few statements in and he does that here too, but it's nothing that can't be overlooked. Sure, I could've done without the monologues from James Best and Hari Rhodes and the two color sequences (actually three, there's one later on too), but I went with the flow, swallowed it and kept chewing. Speaking of Rhodes, he's the catalyst for another fantastic Fuller idea - a black white supremacist! The thing of it is, is that since the film takes place in an mental hospital, you can kind of get away with a lot of things and chalk any uncouth shenanigans up to the fact that, "Hey, it all takes place in a crazy ward, nothing is to be taken too seriously". The idea of this black man going around, thinking he's a KKK leader, is just brilliant writing, in my opinion. And hey, I haven't even gotten into the whole incest thing, which had to be SUPER RISKY for it's time. Not to mention Constance Towers and a few of the outfits she dons. I mean, I had absolutely no problem letting my eyes guzzle her up, but she was so scantily clad, I couldn't believe I was watching a '63 film.

The thing I love is that it all makes sense too. I mean, a man would go insane wouldn't he. Not only do you have the pressures of your job and the desire to succeed, but you also have your smokin' hot girlfriend, who's a stripper, who you're leaving on the outside to get hit on and flirted with by every Tom, Dick and Harry that watches her dance, all so you can get that Pulitzer. On top of that, you're constantly surrounded by patients who are singing in your ear (of course I'm talking about Pagliacci, played brilliantly Larry Tucker) and chomping gum. Then you actually have to coax information out of a few of them, catching glimpses of sanity, that's about as easy as catching a peek at a shooting star. Pile on to that the fact that you're constantly acting, getting reality and fantasy mixed up and then the coup de grace, the shock treatments, which would be bound to send him over the edge.

The big rain scene at the end, that I mentioned. This, in my opinion, perfectly demonstrates what is going on inside Johnny's head during his "irrational moments". 

If I'd had my way the ending would have been a little different. I LOVED the rain scene, but I'd have maybe cut the big fist fight between Barrett and Wilkes. It went on a bit too long and reminded me too much of the fist fight at the end of "The Quiet Man", meaning I half expected Barrett and Wilkes to get up at the end, toss their heads back in laughter and share a beer. If only it had been half as long, I'd have still ended it with Johnny banging Wilkes' head on the ground, asking who killed Sloane, but I wouldn't have had Wilkes admit it. I'd have had Johnny bang his head till he died, thus rendering Johnny a lifetime member of the insane asylum, sentenced by a judge. I also hated the whole good cop/bad cop routine played by the two attendants and I just knew that the killer would end up being the nice one - a bit too predictable. But really, that's all just nitpicking. I have to ask, was anyone else reminded of "Shutter Island"? I was, for sure. It also makes me realize that fiction that takes place inside asylums is usually really good stuff, at least 95% of the time. Anyway, check this out. I'd say approach it with caution, because there are a few curve balls that threaten to take you out of the whole picture. However, in my opinion the story itself is so good, that you'll be very willing to dodge the curves and just go with the flow. Recommended.

RATING: 7.5/10  Well, that brings us to "The Big Red One", which I am NOT looking forward to, considering it's a war flick. However, I do love me some Lee Marvin, so it's got that going for it. We shall see...

MOVIES WATCHED: 822
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 179

March 20, 2014  12:12am

Sunday, March 16, 2014

261. Pickup On South Street (1953)


Running Time: 80 minutes
Directed By: Samuel Fuller
Written By: Samuel Fuller, from story by Dwight Taylor
Main Cast: Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter, Murvyn Vye, Richard Kiley
Click here to view the trailer

FULLER HAT TRICK: PART ONE OF THREE

I'm dead tired and today was only the first of a five day stretch. Hopefully I can at least get the Sam Fuller stuff done this work week and then spend my upcoming three day weekend chilling with my wife, when we plan to watch a handful of new releases that we've been putting off. Anyway, it's time for some Fuller and I am 100% unfamiliar with him, having never seen one of his movies before.

Love Widmark's eyes in this shot. The whole scene where he picks her purse is brilliantly filmed and probably the best scene in the whole film. 

It's a film noir, so that should allow you to mentally set the mood and atmosphere in your head. The film takes place smack dab in the middle of the Cold War and it kind of reverberates to today's current situation in the Ukraine. Anyway, the film begins on a subway, as the camera zooms in on a pretty woman, which turns out to be Candy (Peters) and a man eyeballing her purse. The music plays and no words are exchanged, as the man slyly shuffles his fingers into her purse, grabbing her wallet and exiting the train quickly. As he leaves, two men run for the door, but it closes on them at the last second. It turns out that Candy was delivering a piece of important microfilm to the Reds and it just so happens that she had it in her wallet. The two men who dashed for the subway door, were government agents, who were following Candy, ready to nab whomever she passed the film off to. Now the film is in the hands of petty pickpocket, Skip McCoy (Widmark), who really doesn't know what he has. Well, that is until he is pulled in by police and told to simply return the microfilm and no questions will be asked. He instead plays dumb, realizing that he must have gotten his hands on something important and instead meets up with Candy later in the film, demanding a hearty sum of $25,000 for the return of the film. Candy enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend Joey (Kiley) to help her negotiate with Skip and with the ones who she was delivering to, trying to buy her more time. Meanwhile, pickpocket aficionado Moe (Ritter), makes $50 here and $50 there as she leads people to Skip's door. It's nothing personal, she tells him - she's simply saving up to buy a cemetery plot and needs the green. Also, a romance blossoms between Skip and Candy.

Jean Peters relaxing in a hot bath. She looked fabulous in this, but I was hard pressed to find a good publicity photo of her, when I went hunting afterwards.

Here's the deal kids, daddy's tired and he's literally sitting right next to his bed, which has somehow sprouted lips and is miraculously calling his name. So, I do apologize, but I'm going to try and make this one short & sweet so that I can go lay down. I knew you'd understand. Oh, yes - "Pickup on South Street".

If I had to sum it up, I'd say that it just wasn't good enough. It was fine, I guess and I can't say I hated it or waited for it to end. I watched it patiently and let the eighty minutes elapse, but I was never blown away, left gape mouthed or even left with thoughts like "Oh, this is really good" or "This is something special". Nope, that never happened, not even close. I guess if I had to give reasons as to why I didn't like it, I'd simply say that I've seen better noirs - ones that didn't have all the "commie" and "reds" talk, which was bordering on too political for my tastes. I'll also admit that my hopes may have been a little high too. I was actually really looking forward to a good noir and was in the perfect mood for one last night. I'd seen this title when I first bought THE BOOK and just the title alone attracted me and seemed like something I'd be into. While I didn't hate it or anything, it certainly won't be going on my favorites list anytime soon. There was just about equal parts good and bad, but ultimately I'd just say it wasn't special enough to be considered a "must see" and the cast just couldn't save it, as good as they were. Seriously, I loved Widmark, Ritter and Peters (va va va voom!) and they were all noir naturals.

Widmark's character lives at this old, rundown shack near the docks - a great noir setting.

RATING: 6/10  Sorry for being so short, but I really am beat tonight. I guess I could have waited to write the review, but I don't like to wait too long after watching the movies because I don't want to start forgetting stuff.

MOVIES WATCHED: 821
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 180

March 16, 2014  8:30pm

Saturday, March 15, 2014

628. Der amerikanische Freund/The American Friend (1977)


Running Time: 127 minutes
Directed By: Wim Wenders
Written By: Wim Wenders, from the novel Ripley's Game by Patricia Highsmith
Main Cast: Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gerard Blain, Nicholas Ray
Click here to view the trailer

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE...

I technically could have called this "Fuller Week: Part One", as I'm set to begin reviewing the Samuel Fuller movies next up and he was actually in this one. If his choice of roles is any indication of his own directing style, then I look forward to the Fuller films.

Love the use of the color green in this scene, making Hopper's Tom Ripley seem all the more mad when he's snapping Polaroids of himself. What was that all about anyway?

The film is an adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel, "Ripley's Game", which was even more recently adapted into an American film starring John Malkovich and in the 90s starring Matt Damon. Some would have you believe that the plot revolves around Tom Ripley, but I'd prefer to revolve my own synopsis around the character of Jonathan Zimmermann (Ganz), a picture framer who is suffering from a rare blood disease. When Zimmermann meets Tom Ripley (Hopper) for the first time, he gives him the cold shoulder and later, someone informs Ripley that Zimmermann IS dying. When Ripley is asked to commit a murder by French gangster Minot (Blain), he turns down the job, but recommends Jonathan. A few days later, Ripley goes into Zimmermann's shop and asks for a picture to be framed and the two men apologize for their cold meeting. After that, Minot contacts Zimmermann and tells him that he knows he is dying and that if he'd like to make some extra cash before his death, he'll pay him 250,000 marks to assassinate the man Minot wanted Ripley to kill. At first, Zimmermann refuses, stating that he, in fact, isn't dying and that his last test came up negative and that he isn't a murderer. However, he begins to doubt his own doctor's diagnosis and when Minot offers to get him a second opinion in Paris (where the hit would take place), Zimmermann accepts the job. That's enough to get you started, I think...

This is an actual image from the film and a perfect example of that "otherworldly" quality I was talking about. Notice Wenders use of red and how maybe it symbolizes the blood that has been spilled by Zimmermann.
There was a shot of Zimmermann in a hotel hallway that I wanted but couldn't find anywhere online, so I settled for him running in a street tunnel. Like I said though, every shot seems to be so well thought out.

Boy, whether you like the plot of this one or not, it really doesn't matter as the camerawork and atmosphere give the viewer plenty to sink their teeth into. I, for one, enjoyed the plot as well, but it took some warming up for me to really get into it. In fact, until I read the Wikipedia entry for this film, I really didn't 100% get it. I, at first, didn't realize that Minot first approached Ripley to do the hit and only when Ripley refused did he approach Zimmermann. I kept wondering throughout the film why Ripley was even involved in this. I guess you could still ask that question though - why did Ripley get involved? Only because he felt responsible for getting Zimmermann involved in the first place? I'd say that makes sense enough to just go with it. I think the plot is followable enough and I think the real star here, like I said is Wenders' direction, Robby Muller's cinematography and the overall atmosphere of the whole picture. I have to say I'm becoming more and more entranced by German cinema, as there always seems to be something deeper going on in that country's films and they're almost always beautiful. I'll be tackling the films of R.W. Fassbinder later this season and really can't wait to do so.

Shot near the end. The character in the background is Ripley. Another shot that is seemingly flawless. 

Anyway, this was an easy thumbs up for me. Man, I really need to give "Wings of Desire" a second chance, because I remember it disappointing me so much, but "The American Friend" and "Paris, Texas" have both more than made up for that one and it makes me want to see the rest of Wenders' work. My hopes for this one may have been a little too high and some early confusion (my fault) may lead to a slightly lower rating, but all in all, I'd highly recommend this movie, as all the pieces of a great motion picture are in the work, which also include an eerie, yet powerful score and rich colors which make the film, at times, feel otherworldly. If I had to nitpick, I think Wenders could've done a better job of making the bullet points a little clearer. Like I said, it took me a while to realize what the hell Hopper's character was even doing. Maybe that's my own fault, but I kind of want to give blame to the movie, because I feel like I was paying close enough attention that I should've caught onto Ripley's motivations. I don't know - I get it now and I guess that's all that matters. This is a tough one to get a hold of (I don't think Netflix offers it - at least they didn't used to), but if you can track it down, it will be worth the hunt. Even if you hate the plot, this is one you could put on mute and just let the images and colors wash over you, as almost every shot is freeze frame worthy.

RATING: 8/10  Can't go all the way, because this isn't even the best thing I've seen this season ("The Conversation", "The French Connection", "The Night of the Hunter"), but it's still damn good and highly recommended.

MOVIES WATCHED: 820
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 181

March 15, 2014  6:25pm

Friday, March 14, 2014

647. Breaking Away (1979)


Running Time: 100 minutes
Directed By: Peter Yates
Written By: Steve Tesich
Main Cast: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, Paul Dooley
Click here to view the trailer

Note: It has just been brought to my attention that not only has yours truly begun tracking progress in the "1001 Albums..." list, but Amanda (of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) has been doing it for quite sometime now and has made some huge progress. And get this - she's also been tackling the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List and has made considerable progress there as well. Surely this is one girl that deserves your attention, so please swing by and give her a visit. Between the movies, the music and the literature, surely there's something over there to catch your fancy. Click here for her 1001 Albums blog and here for her 1001 Books blog and find her 1001 Movies blog in the BlogRoll!

BICYCLES AND COOKIE CUTTERS

This has been on the streaming portion of Netflix for literally years and I've been passing it by ever since. I could tell by the cover art that it was a movie about a bicyclist, but that's really all I knew. I was kind of surprised at how much fun this little known flick from '79 had in store for me. Read on...

The Quarrymen! No, not the Beatles! We're talking about the four main boys from the picture, including a young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley and the star, Dennis Christopher

The film revolves around Dave Stoller (Christopher), who has recently won an Italian racing bicycle and enters the world of competitive cycling. He's also an admitted Italianophile, who wallpapers his room with cycling posters of Italian racing teams and logos. His three best friends in the world are Mike (Quaid), Moocher (Haley) and Cyril (Stern) and he gathers with them daily at a local quarry, in their small Illinois hometown, where they go swimming and think about their futures, or lack thereof. It's the support that Dave finds with his buds, that he's lacking at home, as his father is more than worried about him; wanting nothing more than for Dave to get a job and get his life on track. Dave flirts with the idea of taking college entrance exams, but gets caught up literally flirting with college girl Katherine, who attends Indiana University. The trouble is, is that upon their initial meeting, Dave, who's always donning an Italian accent, makes Katherine think he's a genuine Italian exchange student and now he must cover up the truth or risk breaking her heart. Meanwhile, there's a long standing feud between the students who attend Illinois U. and the town kids (called "Cutters") and it is only egged on further by the hot-headed Mike. It all boils down to a university cycling race, in which the Cutters are allowed to enter.

SPOILER ALERT!

Probably the best scene in film, where David rides behind a eighteen wheeler, with the driver giving him his speed out the window, using his fingers. 

This may be the most cookie cutter, overly sentimental film I've ever seen. We've got daddy issues, which are resolved with a long walk & talk and culminate with daddy running down the the big race, just in time to cheer on his boy. We've got girl issues, where a case of mistaken identity threatens to disrupt a blossoming romance, complete with guitar serenade outside her window. We've got the big climactic finish, a race - in which Dennis Quaid's character decides to man up and show the college students he's not all talk and in which Dave wins the big one. I mean "Breaking Away" must be the movie that they show to Hollywood filmmakers, right before they graduate and get to go make typical, romantic comedies and sentimental garbage. This is like the blueprint for thousands of bad movies that have followed and the thing is, is that it's really not that bad, probably because it was directed by a foreigner. You know, after I watched this, I got to thinking, "Man, this movie is just so cliche, predictable and typical. It's like a hundred other movies I've already seen". And then I thought about it and realized that while it may be cookie cutter, millions of cookies are made every year with the use of cookie cutters and that doesn't make them any less delicious! Am I right?

So what it it's cliche and predictable. In fact, why did predictable get such a bad rap? I mean, maybe predictable is good, because that means that what should be happening IS happening, right? Nevermind, I'm tired. Anyway, I realized there really wasn't a thing wrong with this movie. You had a star that I've rarely seen (in fact, the only other movie I've seen Dennis Christopher in was Stephen King's "It" as Eddie "Spaghetti"), who hammers a home run out the park, not to mention the co-stars who all do fine jobs, especially Paul Dooley. You had a fine plot and a pretty perfect portrayal of Anytown, USA. Was it just me, or did this movie remind anyone else of "Stand by Me"? I don't know why, because the kids are much older, but it did - especially the scenes at the quarry. The fact that this thing was directed by someone outside the U.S. and they were able to peg the small town states this good, is uncanny. I wonder, do college kids and the kids that live in college towns but don't attend the school really feud like this? I'd never even heard of that notion before watching this, but I guess it makes sense that they might.

Does the main characters' Italian obsession represent his hopes & dreams? Notice how he loses the Italian obsession when he finds out the Italians are cheaters, but has it back at the very end of the film.

Anyway, I'm rambling like a fool because I'm tired. What I'm trying to say is that despite this movie having qualities that I'd normally condemn, I'm giving it a pass because I enjoyed it, damn it! I watched this at 10 o'clock at night, after getting up at 6:30am and I didn't even begin to doze, not once and watched it straight through with nary a pause. Since I'm a big pause guy, especially when I get tired, that's saying something. I think a lot of you, especially the highfalutin film goers are going to crap all over this one. However, everyday movie goers, I think, will get a kick out of this one and find it really good. I'd like to think I'm highfalutin, but I'll swim with the commoners tonight and give this one a passing grade.

RATING: 7/10  Screw it, I'm feeling generous and I liked it, for the most part. What else has Dennis Christopher been in. Also, Daniel Stern - right? Love that guy.

MOVIES WATCHED: 819
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 182

March 14, 2014  10:28pm

Thursday, March 13, 2014

514. Little Big Man (1970)


Running Time: 139 minutes
Directed By: Arthur Penn
Written By: Calder Willingham, from novel by Thomas Berger
Main Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam, Richard Mulligan
Click here to view the trailer

Note: I've finally decided to go ahead and start officially tracking my progress on the "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" list. Any and all conversation relating to that list can be found by clicking the above link, entitled "1001 Albums". You'll always find my most recent thoughts at the top, included with a picture of the album, my personal favorite song from the album and a letter grade. You can also click in there to find a link that will direct you to a look at the entire list, if you're curious. Also, I haven't forgotten about the Twilight Zone page, which I'll update at my whim.

JOHN FORD MEETS MEL BROOKS

Had the chance to take in "Little Big Man" last night, via DVD delivery from Netflix (hopefully they shape up soon - check the "India Song" review for details). I have to say it was Dustin Hoffman who turned this movie from something that could've been really boring into something mildly enjoyable.

Great scene where Jack attempts to murder Gen. Custer. Richard Mulligan was just fantastic as Custer and it's a shame that he died with his best known role being a sitcom doctor. Why didn't this guy get bigger/better work?

The film is told in flashback, as an interviewer talks with the 111-year-old Jack Crabb (Hoffman), a white man who is being asked about the Battle of Little Big Horn. Jack begins to talk, flashing back to a time when he was just a boy and his family was murdered by a Pawnee tribe, leaving only he and his sister. The two are then adopted by a tribe of Cheyenne, but it's only Jack who stays with them, as the sister runs away in the night, fearing she'll be raped by the Native American men. The Cheyenne bring up Jack as their own and raise him on their customs, even giving him a genuine Indian name - Little Big Man. Later, when the Cheyenne tribe is attacked by a troop of U.S. cavalrymen, Jack worries for his life and decides to surrender, showing the men that he is white, claiming he's been kidnapped by them and held against his will. From there, he is placed into the care of Reverend Silas Pendrake and his sexually frustrated wife, Louise (Dunaway). Jack develops a crush on the female Pendrake, but it goes nowhere, as he decided to leave the Pendrake residence and team up with a traveling medicine man. Eventually, the medicine man is robbed by a group of gunfighters, headed up by a familiar female who turns out to be Jack's sister. She takes him under her wing and teaches him to shoot, which later leads to him meeting Wild Bill Hickok and being dubbed the Soda Pop Kid. Later, Jack opens a general store and marries Olga, a woman who barely speaks English. When the store goes out of business, the two run into General Custer, who assures them that if they travel west, there will be nary an Indian. He was wrong, however and Olga is kidnapped by a band of Cheyenne, whom later meet back up with Jack and remember him as Little Big Man. So in summation, it's a western version of Forrest Gump, telling Crabb's story as he blunders through life, unintentionally meeting famous/infamous people and getting involved in historical events.

In "Little Big Man" we learn that Wild Bill Hickok wasn't a murderer, but rather just a nervous Nelly with an itchy trigger finger. Jeff Corey played him well.

Did anyone else make the "Forrest Gump" connections? I've seen a few other people on various sites (including the comments section over at iCheck) make the comparison and it was really obvious to me too, as I even used that comparison last night when my wife asked me what the movie I was watching was about. It was okay, I guess. I really wasn't expecting much to tell you the truth and honestly, didn't really know a thing about it going in. When it started out as a western, I was a little disappointed, as I think I've finally made up my mind that I'm just not the western type of guy (there are exceptions to the rule, but all in all, the Old West isn't my bag baby). However, it held my interest fairly well and I was chugging along not minding what I was seeing. I was surprised by the heavy use of comedy, as it just didn't seem the type of movie to use comedy so much to it's advantage. However, the comedy that was there was fairly amusing - nothing laugh out loud, but nothing too eye rolling either. Was it just me or was Dustin Hoffman doing an over exaggerated impersonation of himself in this? I mean, he REALLY sounded like a Hoffman impersonator, to me, instead of his natural self. I also have to say that Dunaway was a breath of fresh air here. I've honestly never taken notice of her before, but she was fantastic in this (looked amazing too!) - I only wish she'd had a more prominent role.

Dunaway as Louise Pendrake washing away Jack Crabb's sins...literally. She was just soooo good in this and made me want to see more of her movies.

Look, this one isn't setting the world on fire or anything, nor did it ever, but if you go in with your expectations lowered a bit, I think you'll find something worth watching, at least. If you're a Hoffman fan, he shines here and really makes the movie for my money. Also, Dunaway fans are in a good news/bad news situation, as she kills it, yet isn't in there quite enough. Seriously, Dunaway didn't grab my attention with "Network" and didn't grab my attention with "Bonnie and Clyde", but she did here and I guess that's saying something, considering her minimal screen time. Also, fans of the old sitcom "Empty Nest" may be interested to see an early role from that shows star, Richard Mulligan as the crazy, evil Gen. Custer. And hey, Marty Balsam's in there too and I'm always happy to spot on of the twelve angry men outside of the deliberation room. Otherwise, it really isn't anything particularly special. A somewhat interesting story, but also one that runs just a tad too long. Had they kept it a strict two hours, I think it would've helped a lot and maybe jolted this one into a higher rating category.

RATING: 6.5/10  But as it is, I can't see fit to bump it into '7' territory, because, as I've stated before, that's a whole new ballgame.

MOVIES WATCHED: 818
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 183

March 13, 2014  6:30pm

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

598. India Song (1975)


Running Time: 115 minutes
Directed By: Marguerite Duras
Written By: Marguerite Duras
Main Cast: Delphine Seyrig, Michael Lonsdale, Claude Mann, Mathieu Carriere, Didier Flamand

Note: Man, Netflix is really burning my ass lately. I keep having to call to report that I've returned my discs, because they're not getting them as quick as they used to. Granted, the problem could be with my local post office, but as far as I know it could be with them too. The woman that I just spoke to was very reluctant to cooperate with me and gave me a TONE, even though she did manually check back in my discs. I seriously hope this problem fixes itself, because waiting three days between mailing them back and them getting them is getting ridiculous. Anyway, I just had to vent a little - I'm fine now...

ALL STYLE AND NO CONTENT

Those aren't my words, but rather the words of a frustrated movie critic who'd had his fill of "India Song" as well. Since I couldn't stand the film either and shared that critic's sentiments, I decided to borrow his quote. Read on...

This scene of Seyrig lying on the floor goes on for about fifteen mins. She's joined by other men and there's voice overs, but damn...FIFTEEN MINUTES of nothingness!

I can't even begin to relay the plot for you here, so I'm sorry if you were wanting it laid out for you. What I can do, is kind of just tell you what happens in the movie and hopefully you'll get the gist of what it's all about. All online sources say that the film is about a woman, Anne-Marie Stretter (Seyrig), who is living with her husband in India (he's the French Ambassador in India) and becomes bored so she begins to have affairs. Her husband knows of the affairs, but is tolerant of her promiscuity. Okay, that's all I can really find as far as what the film is about, when I look online. Truth be told, if I hadn't looked online and found that much, I wouldn't even have been able to piece THAT together. The film is just so....unwilling to provide us with a straight story. I'm fine with a little off kilter, if you have your own method of storytelling, but this thing was so off kilter I couldn't wait for it to just end, so I could tick it off and move on with my life. There are many shots of Seyrig just lying around or standing around, eating up precious minutes of screen time. Sure, she looks fantastic and the cinematography is outstanding, but it leads to nothing, so what's the point. Seriously, did Delphine Seyrig ever do a normal movie? I adore "Jeanne Dielman..." but one has to admit that even it's not quite normal, compared to other films. Therefore, abnormal isn't bad, but again, "India Song" is too abnormal for my tastes.

Another shot that just drags. Sure, it looks amazing and I loved the placement of the mirror throughout the film, but this dance goes on for probably a good ten - fifteen minutes.

THE BOOK points to Alain Resnais as a Duras collaborator and as soon as I read that, I nodded in realization. This film also, for some reason, reminded me of "Gertrud", a film that I'd nearly forgotten. Was anyone else reminded of "Gertrud", because honestly, I don't even know why I am drawing comparisons between the two. I do know that "Gertrud" dealt with marital conflict and I do seem to remember scenes that seemed to go on forever, with a camera pointed at characters that remained stationary, but I could be wrong. There are long scenes in "India Song" where the characters seem to be frozen in a pose, as if they were models for a sculpture. Also, there is no delivered dialogue, as all of the films words come from voice overs and mostly from narrators, who are just telling the story to us. In other words, Delphine Seyrig's mouth never opens to speak dialogue - on camera anyway. Again, it goes back to the "all style and no content" quote from that critic, because it's very true. The camerawork is marvelous, the setting is to die for (seriously, it's great and I was left wishing so hard that there had been a good movie going on, because the surroundings were just perfect - I mean that) and some of the techniques could have worked. I could've gotten into a movie with no dialgoue and all voice overs, but not this one. I have to say, I really love Seyrig and was really looking forward to this one, so I have to chalk this one up as a HUGE disappointment. Sorry Delphine.

And yes, a shot of Seyrig's breast, which we're treated to for probably a good two - five minutes, just watching her breathe. On one hand it's kind of hypnotic, but on the other that's precious screen time. This all coming from the guy who was totally fine with watching Seyrig peel potatoes for ten minutes in "Jeanne Dielman...". I know, I don't make sense sometimes.

RATING: 3/10  I have to give it at least a '3' for the look and the feel, but damn it just sucked beyond that.

MOVIES WATCHED: 817
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 184

March 12, 2014  11:32am

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

568. Don't Look Now (1973)


Running Time: 110 minutes
Directed By: Nicholas Roeg
Written By: Allan Scott, Chris Bryant, from story by Daphne Du Maurier
Main Cast: Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania, Massimo Serato
Click here to view the trailer

SUTHERLAND'S PERM

Is it awful that the thing I MAY remember this movie for is the vicious man perm of Donald Sutherland? I'm sure that's not true, but DAMN, what a head of hair Kiefer's daddy was sporting in this one - worth the price of admission alone. Anyway, the movie is "Don't Look Now"...read on...


When their young daughter dies during a drowning accident, John Baxter (Sutherland), along with his wife Laura (Christie), takes a job in Venice restoring an old church for a somewhat grumpy bishop (Serato). By this time, the pain of losing their daughter (not their only child, as they also have a son who is attending boarding school, back home in England) has somewhat eased. Don't worry, this isn't one of those "we lost our child and now our marriage is falling apart" movies. Anyway, when out to lunch one day, the couple are approached by two elderly women: Wendy (Mason) and the blind, psychic Heather (Matania), the latter of which claims to have seen the Baxter's daughter - Christine - standing beside them at their lunch table, laughing. She claims that the girl was wearing a red, shiny coat, which is the coat that the little girl died in. Laura eats Heather's claims up with a spoon, while John is the hesitant one, who brushes off the ladies' claims. Following that, Laura decides to pay the ladies a visit and hold a seance. During the seance, Heather tells Laura that John is in trouble and that the two must leave Venice right away. Again, John doesn't care and brushes off the blind woman's claims and chalks his wife's crazy ideas up to her being ill. After that, the two receive a call from England, telling them that their son has been in an accident and that one of them needs to come home right away. Laura decides to go, while John stays behind. The next morning, John sees Laura off as she goes to catch a plane home, however, later that day, he spots her with the two old women. The second half of the film deals with John running around the beautiful, yet cryptic streets of Venice looking for Laura.

SPOILER ALERT!


One that I was really looking forward to and one that I really did enjoy, although I have to say, I may not have enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. Could it have been the way I hyped myself up for this one or perhaps the fact that I had to watch it via YouTube (available for purchase on YouTube if anyone else is interested), sitting in an uncomfortable chair, not to mention the quality was kinda crappy. I'll start out with the bad and then we'll segue into the good stuff, deal?

For one thing, the film had a fine plot, yet it didn't seem to have enough material to cover it's entire running time, therefore, there's are some chunks where we're just kind of waiting around until the next bullet point. That may not even be a gripe, because while we're waiting, we're treated to the glorious city scenes of Venice, which is a character in it's own right. And is it just me, or are there some plot holes in this one? Now, again, this may not be a legit gripe, because this is one that really seems to require multiple viewings in order to put together every piece of the puzzle, but I'm pretty sure there are some plot holes. So we're to believe, in order to understand this movie correctly and for it all to make sense, that John Baxter is psychic, yet doesn't know he's psychic, right? Because that's the only explanation as to why he saw Laura on his funeral boat at about the halfway mark and didn't realize that this was actually a premonition of the future - his funeral. But, if that's the case, why doesn't he realize he is in fact psychic when he gets a vision of his daughter drowning - only to be a few moments too late? He SHOULD know that he is psychic, there should be a conversation in there somewhere that goes something like, "Honey, I had a vision of Christine drowning, that's why I ran outside that day". As it is, John is clueless, which is why he is killed, because he's reluctant to accept his gift, as Heather puts it. Again, maybe I'm missing something and that's very possible.


Also, while I'm posing questions, what's up with the police detective? Did anyone else notice that while John is talking to him, he's busy turning one of the sketches of one of the old ladies into the dwarf that later murders John? Also, speaking of the dwarf, why'd it have to be a wicked old dwarf that killed John? I've seen a few posts on the internet, saying that when the red coat turns around and it's revealed that the killer is really an elderly dwarf, they laughed. Now, I didn't laugh at all and in fact I was shocked, however, I can see why someone might laugh, because in hindsight it is kind of silly isn't it? I guess the ugly dwarf kind of gets that extra thrill at the end, so maybe it works. I really don't know what else you could have had under the hood, as it would've had to have been someone short, so that John could think it was his daughter's ghost.

Anyway, that's a bunch of nitpicking and really, this is a fine film and one that I'd easily recommend. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to consider it a horror film, but it definitely has horror undertones and the city of Venice works perfectly to give it that extra cryptic feel. I loved the chemistry between Sutherland and Christie, which may have been cemented by that particularly graphic, yet sensationally edited sex scene between the two - one that got considerable attention and deemed one of the raunchiest of the time. I, for one, thought the two actors did fine jobs and has really opened my eyes to what a great actress Christie really is (coupled with the performance she gave in "McCabe and Mrs. Miller"). I've always been a Sutherland fan and I'm seriously considering hoisting "Klute" to the top of the list and watching it soon. Anyway, check this one out and make your own conclusions & theories and ask your own questions. Hell, bring all of your thoughts here and slap 'em in the comments section and we can all discuss it together. I didn't do a lot research into the explanations or anything, because I kind of like to develop my own ideas, as opposed to reading others and then not being able to get those out of my head. I assure you this is one that will stick with you, at least for a little bit and one that you're probably gonna' want to watch again right after you finish it.

RATING: 7/10  Can't really go higher than that, at least for now, but it's a fine film and I'd say it only fell a little bit short of reaching my expectations. And another one fore  the TOP 20 candidates list.

MOVIES WATCHED: 816
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 185

March 11, 2014  11:10pm

Sunday, March 9, 2014

535. SHAFT (1971)


Running Time: 100 minutes
Directed By: Gordon Parks
Written By: Ernest Tidyman, John D.F. Black, from novel by Ernest Tidyman
Main Cast: Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Charles Cioffi, Christopher St. John, Gwenn Mitchell
Click here to view the trailer

CAN YOU DIG IT?

"He's a black private dick who's a sex machine with all the chicks - talkin' bout Shaft!" I had never seen any adaptation of "Shaft" (not the 1971 version, not the 2000 version starring Samuel L. Jackson), but I still knew what it was all about because the John Shaft character is a pop culture icon and it's Richard Roundtree who initially brought him to life. Read on...


The plot is cookie cutter stuff, with the sole purpose of showcasing the title character and his exploits. John Shaft is a private detective who is approached by a Harlem mob boss. It seems that the boss' daughter has been kidnapped and he wants Shaft to find her. He pays whatever it takes (in this case, $50 per hour, plus expenses) and puts the bloodhound that is John Shaft on the case. John follows the leads and inadvertently gets himself mixed up with a group of Black Panther like street warriors. Shaft ends up befriending the group  and getting them a gig helping him solve the case. Along the way, Shaft takes little respites to make sweet lovin' to the ladies (he IS a sex machine to all the chicks, ya know), despite having a girlfriend. There's also the matter of Lt. Androzzi of the police, who wants Shaft's help...or else. There's a definite love/hate relationship (mostly hate) between the two.


Seriously, "Shaft" reminded me of a porno. Hear me out - you had a plot that was merely in place as fodder for the main character (even though it wasn't a particularly BAD plot, it was still just a vehicle for the character) and therefore, you could take the time to do what the film's main focus was, which was showing off the star/character. Hell you even had a few token sex scenes to really hammer home my theory that "Shaft" was just a brilliantly executed, much less explicit porno. However, I have to say I liked it. I honestly wasn't expecting too much from this, but I'll be damned if the birth of blaxploitation didn't impress the hell out of me. I watched this one with my wife, because like me, she had heard many things but had never seen a lick of Shaft movies. I remember warning her before it even started, that if she got bored or didn't like it, she could bail. She ended up staying for the whole picture and she actually liked it too. In fact, the two of us really got into it and I'd call this a successful Saturday night at the movies.

SPOILER ALERT!


Roundtree was great too and one has to wonder why he never went further with his acting career. The franchise would grow to produce two more Shaft pictures, including "Shaft in Africa" (or as I call it "SHAFRICA"), which just sounds awful! A few more thing worth mentioned: the Issac Hayes score which is easy to fall in love with and yes, I was singing it for the remained of last night, more than likely annoying my wife to death. What about that apartment? I've been taught by the movies that private detectives live in run down little dumps, with barely a hook to hang their hat on, but not John Shaft. I totally loved the set that was his apartment and it's definitely one of the coolest pads in all of cinema, complete with a spiral staircase (it's like screwing yourself into the ceiling!). Lastly, I wanna' mention that line that was initially delivered by the white girl that Shaft sleeps with - "close it yourself SHITTY!". I have to wonder if that was an ad-lib/flubbed line from the girl that became an onset joke and then incorporated into the script. My wife and I laughed harder every time the line was delivered (three times) and HOWLED when it was the line that closed the film! Speaking of the closing, was it just me or was the ending a bit rushed? It was down to having only like five minutes left and Shaft still hadn't even come flying through the window to save the girl. I kept wondering if my disc was somehow defective and if my copy would even have an ending. But it all got wrapped up nice & quickly and we were sent home happy.

Honestly, it was gritty enough for me to like it, but a little too amateur for me to give really high marks too. Definitely better than "Sweet Sweetback..." and definitely makes me wanna' see more blaxploitation, which is why I should watch "Superfly" soon, huh?

RATING: 6.5/10  Shocked that this was THAT good and definitely one to thank THE BOOK for, as I would have never seen it otherwise.

MOVIES WATCHED: 815
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 186

COMING SOON
Little Big Man (1970 - Arthur Penn)
The American Friend (1977 - Wim Wenders)
Breaking Away (1979 - Peter Yates)
India Song (1975 - Marguerite Duras)
Don't Look Now (1973 - Nicholas Roeg)

Note: We'll be moving right from these and into the three from Sam Fuller, which should tide me over for a couple of weeks.

March 9, 2014  10:48pm