homeaboutarchivescontacteverythingham sandwichprivacy

Seven more movies

Crime Wave (1953)
YES

streaming freestreaming paid

This is a better-than-average caper noir. Doris Day is not present, but her voice sings Gershwin while a gas station is being robbed, and the bumbling attendant/victim is hilarious. That's just the first few minutes, though. 

After that, Sterling Hayden plays a too-tough cop who thinks he knows who done it. He's a detective who’s stupid, mean, assumes everyone’s a criminal, and tosses threats casually. So basically, just an ordinary cop, and he's more scary than any of the thugs here.

The thugs are a gang of escaped cons, leaning on a friend of theirs who's a bad guy gone good. You know the drill — just when he thought he was out, they're trying to pull him back into the life of crime. Hayden, of course, is sure that our bad guy gone good is really still bad.

Pre-fame, Charles Bronson by another name plays one of the baddies, but like a rose he’s unmistakeable no matter. The movie also includes a few well-done but too brief scenes set at the precinct building, where a succession of low-lifes parade through, which plays like an early episode of Barney Miller.

Of note to fans of bad acting: Whether you watch this flick or not, you gotta check out the brief scene at 30:24, where we meet the ex-con’s boss for a one-scene walk-on at the airport. The guy says only a few sentences, but he’s perhaps the worst actor to ever appear in a non-amateur movie. I'd love to know the backstory behind seeing him make every word sound wrong. Did he pay somebody to be in this? And was that really his best take? And if so, cripes, how awful were the takes that got left in the editing room trash can?

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Get Crazy (1983)
BIG NO

streaming freestreaming paid 

As often confessed, I adore musicals if they’re done right, and here’s a musical I’d never heard of, with quite a cast — Fabian, Lou Reed, the one and only Bobby Sherman, plus Malcolm McDowell, Daniel Stern, and Ed Begley Jr. There are some chicks in the movie, too, but nobody I’d ever heard of (which is the Hollywood way).

The plot? The Saturn Theater, a grand old venue for rock’n’roll, is threatened with demolition to make way for a skyscraper. They’re putting on a New Year’s Eve show that’s promised to be the greatest concert ever.

Remember the part, though, where I said I adore musicals if they’re done right? None of this is done right, and it's basically a big ol' turd on the screen — just a mess of stupendous stupidity, with dull and dumb dialogue, flat performances, bad jokes and so-so music, most of which is only on the soundtrack, not sung or danced on-screen. It comes to life only briefly, and only for as long as it takes for the 'guest star' big-name acts to perform their one number each.

♦ ♦ ♦

Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966)
YES

streaming freestreaming paid

George Kuchar made his name in indy or DIY cinema, and he did it in San Francisco. His heyday was before I moved there, but his movies were often screened, and I was often in the audience, drawn 50% by the movies' artistic merit — something smart or strange was always happening — and the other 50% because Kuchar played creatively at the edges of pornography. He was an inspiration to John Waters, if that helps you figure where he belongs on your Venn diagram of auteurs.

Despite the title, Hold Me While I’m Naked is more artsy than porny, and to my disappointment it’s a short instead of feature length. Like most of the Kuchar I’ve seen, it was filmed with a hand-held Super-8 or maybe 16mm camera. You have a problem with that? Hey, if you want perfect Hollywood staging and camerawork, you're in the wrong movie.

I'm giving it a YES because my assumption is that, like me, you're interested in the unusual, especially if it's crazy or has hooters. Also, because Kuchar's mother plays the director's mother, who makes him dinner.

The story isn't much, because there isn't much time for a story — it's 17 minutes or so — but it's about a movie starlet who’s tired of always being asked to undress for her big dramatic scenes, so she tells the director she won’t do any more nude shots. "The mysticism of the stained-glass window and the profanity of that brassiere do not go well together," he says, unsuccessfully trying to talk her out of her clothes.

I would happily tell you the deeper meaning of this movie if I knew it or had even a guess, but I don't. It's short, though, never boring, and there's nudity but it's not much more than PG-13. Let's just say it’s frickin’ weird and I enjoyed it, and then it was over. 

♦ ♦ ♦

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1971)
YES

streaming freestreaming paid

Director William Greaves auditions actors to play the roles of a married couple, arguing as they walk through Central Park. A movie crew follows the actors, filming their performances. Pull back, and a second crew is filming the movie crew, as they’re filming the actors’ argument. Pull back further, and a third crew is following the second crew, filming the second crew while they’re filming the first crew while they’re filming the actors, walking through Central Park.

That's the concept of this weird but very watchable documentary. In the first level story, the male character is supposed to be a closeted gay man (or in the 1968 vernacular, a fag, and wow that word is spoken a lot here), and the scene plays and replays — we’re watching raw footage.

At the second level, watch the director directing, watch all the crew doing their stuff, and you're not sure whether the first-level actors know that the cameras are still running, after the director says ‘Cut.” You'll wonder, or at least I did, whether the actors knew they were making a documentary...

At the third level, listen as the second-level cast and crew (and in this movie, the crew is the cast) complain about the director, the script, the shoot, the actors, the equipment, and the director’s performance as an actor, since he is also an actor in levels two and three of this movie that's a Russian nesting doll.

We see the third-level cast and crew discuss the “questioning reality” conceit of the whole film, and questioning the reality of how they’re questioning reality. Are we really having an impromptu conversation in this behind-the-scenes meeting, one of them wonders, or are we reciting lines as scripted and directed?

It's unmentioned in the movie itself, but I'll say it: Greaves is black, and the actors and most of the crew are white. In 1970 or 2020, that adds to the drama of the drama, and the drama of filming the drama. Greaves seems quite good at directing, although I suppose as the director he could select only the scenes that paint him as a good director, so who knows? He's directed a very watchable movie, though.

Your guess is as good as mine what 'symbiopsychotaxiplasm' means. It's a made-up word, comprised of prefixes and suffixes that make it sorta make sense and seem appropriate. It’s an intriguing concept, that makes for a three-layer movie unlike any you've seen.

'Fascinating' might be too strong a word, but this comes close, and two days later I'm still thinking about what I watched. There's also a sequel out there somewhere, made by Greaves 38 years later, though I'm skeptical about seeing it.

♦ ♦ ♦

The Tingler (1959)
YES

streaming freestreaming paid

Have people these days even heard of William Castle? He was a low-budget Alfred Hitchcock, specializing in horror movies made on the cheap, often accompanied by gimmicky advertising campaigns.

This one opens with the director on camera, encouraging the audience to scream during the movie, and reminding them of something that had been part of the movie's promotion — a few of the theater’s seats had been wired to electrically shock the audience. Assuming that your seat at home hasn’t been wired to electrify your buttock, you won't be jolted, because, sorry, there's nothing scary here.

Vincent Price plays a smiling coroner who has a a theory that too much tension can kill ya. He’s running experiments to measure and capture fright (with a nod toward LSD), and what he discovers is preposterous and contrary to everything known about physiology and psychology — the tingler! It's a physical manifestation of fear, a living parasite within the human body that'll kill you unless you scream, so scream please, now and often, because screaming frightens it away.

We meet a mute woman who’s running a silent cinema, a poetic idea that proves to be a crucial plot point because she can't scream. If per chance none of it makes sense to you, that's because none of it makes sense. The tingler itself is silly, almost inert, and clearly made of molded rubber. Despite the plain dumbness, though, the movie is amusing, especially when the tingler gets loose in the movie theater.

The Tingler succeeds because of Vincent Price. He was always great in scary movies, or movies trying to be scary, like this one. He could play the evil mastermind brilliantly, or the kindhearted gent standing firm against evil. Here he’s the latter, and the reason you might enjoy this.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)
YES

streaming freestreaming paid

Tucker and Dale are a couple of harmless hillbillies in Appalachia, and a bunch of big-city college kids are coming to his neck of the woods. The teenagers want a weekend of camping and marijuana, but they end up at the same middle-of-nowhere convenience store where Tucker and Dale are shopping, and since our titular heroes look exactly like the mountain people stereotypes of Deliverance, the kids are terrified. Much hilarity and bloodshed results.

This is a smart movie about stupid people. For an hour and a half, everything everyone does is dumb, and there's really just one joke to the whole movie: It’s all a misunderstanding! And yet, it remains genuinely funny and unpredictable almost to the very end. 

Like most bloody horror flicks it’s too bloody for my taste, but you'd have to be a post-Christmas grinch not to have a good time. Tucker and Dale would make a perfect double feature with Cabin in the Woods, a not-so-funny riff on the same kids vs redneck movie clichés.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Upstream Color (2013)
NO

streaming freestreaming paid

This movie is simply unpleasant. Let’s drug a woman by putting maggot-like creepy-crawlers inside empty pill capsules, and fooling her into thinking she's under the effects of nightclub drugs. Whatever’s up with the maggots, it renders the victim especially susceptible to hypnotic suggestion, and whatever's up with the movie, it is bleak, amateur and experimental science fiction, and it's from Shane Carruth, the creator of the near-classic low-budget time travel flick Primer.

You can see what Carruth was trying to do here, but unfortunately you also have to see what he did, and it is sour. It's designed to be baffling, and so was Primer, but Primer wasn't mean. There's a low limit for how long I'll patiently watch people being basically tortured, without even being told why. 

It's become a genre in recent years — movies where instead of being told a story, you only get clues. I've enjoyed some entries in that genre, but it only works when I'm smart enough to sew everything together into something that sorta makes sense. This is a mess of oily rags, far beyond my abilities with a needle and thread, and what little I could make sense of, I didn't like. 

12/28/2021  

 

Movies, movies, more movies

← PREVIOUS          NEXT → 

itsdougholland.com 

← PREVIOUS          NEXT →

4 comments:

  1. I'm new here, but you don't watch Clark Griswald movies do you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christmas Vacation, right? And a bunch of sequels? I think I watched the first one at some point. I kinda liked Chevy Chase at some earlier point, but no, the Grizwald sagas never appealed to me.

      Delete
  2. >you gotta check out the brief scene at 30:24, where we meet the ex-con’s boss for a one-scene walk-on at the airport. The guy says only a few sentences, but he’s perhaps the worst actor to ever appear in a non-amateur movie.

    Man, you ain't kidding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, thanks — I don't think "worst ever" is an exaggeration.

      Delete

🚨🚨 WARNING 🚨🚨
The site's software sometimes swallows comments. For less frustration, use the comment form in the sidebar, or simply send an email. 🚨🚨