Gloria, and a few more films

Glastonbury Fayre (2018)
Available on DVD from your local library

The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is held annually near Somerset, England. It's such a big deal that even I've heard of it, though I'm not sure how this concert film of Glastonbury landed on my watchlist.

Probably, it was because Nicolas Roeg is billed as co-director on IMDB, but the film itself credits someone else.

It was filmed in 1971, but not released until 2018, and despite all that time for editing it's a mess, but it's a mess with a beat and you can dance to it.

Who are these people and these bands? We're not told, so presumably we're supposed to recognize pop stars from fifty years ago. I didn't, but per the end credits, it's Fairport Convention and a long list of performers I've never heard of.

#293  [archive]
MAY 22, 2024

Most of the music is good rock'n'roll, some of it quite good, some not quite. None of it made me want to rewind and hear a song again, some made me fast-forward, and sometimes the sound seemed tinny.

For a concert film, too much of it isn't music, but instead is about the crowd, their antics and conversations, and chatter that weirdly, often turns to the topic of religion, but with nothing enlightening to say about it.

Rock'n'roll historians and followers of the bands might dig Glastonbury Fayre, but for non-fans it's sight and sound that signifies little.

Verdict: MAYBE.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Glen and Randa (1971)
Available on DVD from your local library

Glen and Randa are semi-feral teenagers, the next generation after modern times have ended with a big man-made bang. They live in a village where people hunt and gather old canned foods among collapsed houses and old appliances that are useless without electricity.

A traveling showman comes to town, amazing the locals with such relics as balloons and firecrackers, and shows a Wonder Woman comic to Glen, which inspires him to seek the city he's seen from the comic book. 

There are none of the tropes of post-apocalyptic movies — no radiation sickness, roving hoards of savages, etc. There's also no romance, no conflict, and next-to-no budget, but if you slow your expectations for a movie that happens at its own pace, it's worth watching.

Very immersive — for hours after watching this, I kept forgetting that civilization still exists, which was nice.

Verdict: YES.

Movies often add the sound of birds or crickets chirping to subliminally signal 'nature' or 'outdoors', but in an early scene here the sound mix is all wrong, and the crickets are twice as loud as the dialogue. Well, quit yer bellyachin', it's only a brief problem.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Glen or Glenda (1953)
Streaming free at YouTube

"Do you realize what would happen if every man in the country who wanted to wear women's clothes or felt like a woman went to their doctors and wanted a sex change?"

From famed bad-moviemaker Ed Wood, this is a schlocky, exploitative, but sometimes surprisingly forward-looking examination of 'transvestites'.

The primary focus, barely focused, is on Glen, a "perfectly normal fellow"who enjoys slipping into ladies' clothes to become Glenda.

Tragically, though, he's never worn a dress in front of his lovely hollow-headed fiancée Barbara, she's never noticed his fascination at boutique windows, and he can't bring himself to tell her about his 'problem'.

Mad scientist Bela Lugosi lurks between the scenes, an omniscient observer commenting on all this, but whenever he speaks there's wind and rumbling thunder on the soundtrack. Presumably the noise is meant as a callback to Lugosi's horror persona, but it drowns out his many monologues, which might be a plus. 

There's a long sequence with two women who are clearly women, dancing, stripping, and writhing. One of them gets tied up. Neither gets naked. Bella Lugosi watches. Then there's more hallucinatory filler and time-killer, including a cameo by Satan. Every aspect is done with the tiniest budget and borderline competence.

Wood himself was a well-known cross-dresser with a fondness for angora, and after showing cross-dressing as a Lugosi-level horror, the film is generally progressive enough that even an all-trans audience would find it more quaint than offensive.

Verdict: YES. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

Gloria (1980)
Streaming free at Internet Archive

When the screen says "written and directed by John Cassevetes," you expect two things: Gena Rowlands, and an art-house drama. This one's definitely art, but it's not an art-house flick — it's an action thriller fer gosh's sake, and pretty dang terrific.

It starts in a low-rent New York apartment building just blocks from Yankee Stadium, where Buck Henry is in trouble. He's turned state's evidence against the mob, but his identity has leaked, and he's not long for this world — he and his entire family have been 'marked' for extermination.

In a panic just before the assassins arrive, Henry's wife asks her best friend to take and hide the children. That friend is Gloria (Rowlands), the lady down the hall, but she says no.

"You know I'd do anything for you, but I don't like kids. I hate kids, especially yours."

When the kids' mother explains that it's life or death, Gloria reluctantly relents, but the older kid refuses to go, so she only takes Phil, who looks and acts exactly like a 6-year-old Albert Brooks. 

Through the first act, you're thinking Gloria is just an average near-floozy with anti-maternal instinct, trying her best in a rough situation. Soon, though, it comes out that she's actually a hard-smokin' gun-totin' woman with a well-earned police record, and she's as tough as any mobster.

Rowlands is fantastic, of course, and Cassevetes sews it all tightly together. This is maybe the best chick-fronted action movie since Ms 45.

Only two bits of unreality bugged me. First, the kid's doomed mother is absolutely gorgeous, but she's supposed to be married to dweebish Buck Henry? And second, when Gloria has to abandon her apartment, she leaves her cat in the hallway, but never complains about it, even as she's comedically complaining about everything else.

Verdict: BIG YES.

Watch closely for a cameo from legendary movie tough guy Lawrence Tierney. He's the bartender.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Glorious (2022)
Available on DVD from your local library

God is lurking in the men's room of a highway rest stop, and wants an hour-and-a-half conversation with a drunken guy who stops there to vomit. 

God, it turns out, is kind of a bastard. Who knew?

The movie's premise is amusing, and the execution is sometimes clever, but at its heart this is a horror movie, with blood and screams and strobe lights and special effects. The thrills never got me, and everything else stays at the level of 'OK', and sometimes sinks below.

Gods are supposed to be omnipotent, so lines like, "My powers are getting weaker, I need to conserve my strength," seem suspiciously un-godlike.

Verdict: NO.


• • • Coming attractions • • •     

Go (1999)
Go Ask Alice (1973)
Go, Go, Second-Time Virgin (1969)
Go Go Tales (2007)
Go Tell It on the Mountain (1985)

... plus schlock, shorts, and surprises

— — —
Now accepting movie recommendations,
starting with the letter 'H'.
Just add a comment, below.
— — —

Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff. 
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  1. Go, Go, Second-Time Virgin (1969)

    This should be an interesting review, given the subject matter.

    Wakamatsu was one of the more explicitly political directors of the Japanese New Wave, but he combined the politics with exploitation (sex and violence as only the Japanese can do it, God bless 'em) to match someone like Abel Ferrara. Real interesting artist. You also might look into Nagisa Ōshima and Yoshishige Yoshida's stuff.

    1. Yeah? Are all his films sorta like Go Go? I'd never seen anything by the guy before, and it's hard to stomach but *so* obviously more than mere exploitation and worth the watching. I have already added a few Wakamatsus, and will also go go toward Ōshima and Yoshida, thanks.

  2. I'm still a fan of Japanese Old Wave: Kyu Sakamoto, actor and singer, killed in a spectacular mountain plane crash. When he was crying, he always walked looking up at the rainy sky. I still know the lyric but I don't know the words. I suppose that could be true of any wave at all.


    1. It's probably awful of me, but not even knowing the name Kyu Sakamoto, when you said singer and Japanese, this is what came to mind. It's gotta suck for a singer to be famous for just one song, but if ya gotta, it's a pretty cool song. Maybe he had a second song, in Japan?

    2. Yeah, and a modest acting career. He was doing OK until he took the wrong plane.

      Of course it was racist to call his song of love and loneliness Sukiyaki. We could have done better by him. At the minimum, the song deserved better.

      Life is short and all of a sudden it gets shorter.


    3. Yeah, the song certainly deserved better than thinly sliced meat. Dang catchy song, though, and he had a lovely voice for it.

  3. Huge nuclear war movie aficionado and I never heard of Glen and Randa before. Found it youtube in pretty shit quality but it should give some idea of how good it is anyway.

    Also I read the thumbnail first and misread "Glen and Randa" for was some whacked out gas station edition DVD of "Glen or Glenda," I should have known that would be the next one!

    1. That was my first impression when I saw the title, too. Hope you dig it. The copy I watched was from a pirate site, but a fairly clean copy.


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