Sunday, January 29, 2012

Smithereens (1982)



I've wanted to see this one for a while, it seems up my alley. Overall I liked it, although it's a little repetitive, but it nails the mood and cynicism, and has a great soundtrack (mostly featuring The Feelies). Like I said, on it's own merits I liked it, but I don't think it's as good as some other entries into this genre.

Bad Girl Island (2007)



This is directed by the guy who made "Mac & Me," and all that that implies. This started off entertaining enough with a hilarious dolphin and a mystery scenario, but as it went long I quickly lost interest.

--Popkoff

Tromeo & Juliet (1996)



Haven't watched this since the late 90's. I was much younger then and probably didn't enjoy as much as I did this time around. There were 2 or 3 laugh-out-loud moments, but overall the thing that impressed me was that the actor was a lot better than I remembered. I found it funny that one of the actresses in the film had both fake piercing and tattoos. The only reason I find it funny is because Troma movies are so naturally dirty and sleazy that it seems like they could of found someone with real tats and stuff. Not a big deal, just an observation.

--Popkoff

Erik the Viking (1989)



The opening scene of this movie is hilarious. Unfortunately it never reaches that height of hilarity again. It's not unfunny mind you, it just starts off BIG. Overall it's lighthearted fare, not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.

--Popkoff

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Popeye (1980)



The wondrous joy of being a fan of Robert Altman is knowing that no matter what genre the film was he's directed, he was going to leave his unique stamp on it. Look at "Popeye," a family picture, partly financed by Disney, and it's weird as hell, complete with Altman's trademark dialogue mixing and regular leading lady, Shelly Duvall (who he apparently held out for though the studio wanted Gilda Radner).

I know this film gets panned often, but consider this: Could the casting be anymore perfect? Could the universe/town be anymore perfectly realized? If made today, could Hollywood do any better??



--Popkoff

Pennies from Heaven (1981)



I was considering showing this for the marathon, but decided on "New Low." George decided to show it instead. Still great.

My Review

--Popkoff

One from the Heart (1982)



Shamelessly romantic and carefully crafted, "One from the Heart" is truly a spectacle and an astounding achievement in set design. It was so awesome seeing a young Fredric Forrest tear up the screen, in as a romantic lead no less. Harry Dean Stanton's hair is out of control in this. Nastassja Kinski has circus talents?? Raul Julia and Teri Garr are both wonderful. Oh, and how hot is Teri Garr in this? I never knew I wanted to see her breasts until now. I LOVED it!!!



--Popkoff

Glen and Randa (1971)



This bizarre post-apocalyptic oddity was apparently critically well-received when it was initially released, although you couldn't guess that based on the current IMDB rating, which is in the low 3's. I don't think it was nearly that bad, in fact it's kind of aged well. Perhaps that's mostly due to the entertaining, and unintentional goofy performance of the lead actor, Steve Curry, sporting Sideshow Bob-style hair.



The film was originally rated "X" for the amount of nudity (and imagine some of the situations), and of course, it's seems relativity tame now. The story is pretty simple, Glen and Randa are teenage lovers (and Adam and Eve metaphors) in a future with no hope, they head out into the unknown in search of the Metropolis of D.C. Comics fame. Along the way they meet a horse, Glen violently kills some non-CGI fish, and they meet a old man who aides with the birth of their child.

I enjoyed this, probably won't watch again anytime soon, but if it were to screen somewhere, I'd take in.

Also, one of my favorite tidbits was Glen's insistence on labeling everything he learns about.



--Popkoff

New Low (2010)



I saw this back at AFF 2010 and it was honestly one of my favorite movies of that year. Re-watching it today, I still really loved it. The main character might be channeling a slacker-version of a self-deprecating Woody Allen-type (which I don't mind), but some of the other characters are so well articulated that I spend most of the film thinking, "man, I know people like this."

Characters aside, what I really love about the movie is just how hilarious it is. It really has some amazing one-liners and bits. It's FREE on Hulu right, so give it a look, I'd love to know what you think.

The In Crowd (1988)



I really liked this. It would make a nice companion to the movie "Mischief." There's a showstopping dance off right in the middle of the movie.




--Popkoff

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"A Face in the Crowd" - (1957)



I liked it, but I wasn't completely enthralled. Andy Griffith is really good. I haven't seen him play this big of an asshole since his entertaining turn in "Pray for the Wildcats." It was a really good one-time viewing, but I doubt I'll be revisiting it anytime soon.

--Popkoff

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Times Square" (1980)



This is one of my all time favorite movies. Period. Robin Johnson's performance in this movie is one of the great unsung turns in any movie. The soundtrack is amazing, the use of The Ramones and Lou Reed is perfect. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!

Watch the whole movie below.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"The Haunting" (1963)



"The House...it's alive."

Julie Harris stars as Nell Lance, a troubled, sheltered woman, who takes the sudden invitation to take part in a paranormal "experiment" as an opportunity to escape from her family and her past. The experiment takes place in the supposedly haunted Hill House, and is essentially just a prolonged slumber party involving folks with a paranormal past or a vested interest in the house. The house itself is an incredible achievement in set design and one of the movie's most valued assets.



Harris' performance is very good, and her character's internal narration provides some of the film's most surreal and creepy moments. Her inner dialogue contributes to the film's atmosphere as much as the music, sound design, and cinematography, even in seemingly non-threatening scenes like this one early on of Nell anxiously driving to the house.



The movie opens with a tone-setting narration recounting the history of the Hill House and quickly establishes it's ominous powers. The opening narration plays like a collection of campfire ghost stories, detailing the house's long history of death. One of the most effective sequences in this portion is the aging transformation of life-time Hill House resident, Abagail Crane.





After receiving what he believes is an incredible opportunity, Dr. John Markway invites Nell, Theo (a psychic), and Luke(the house's new owner) to spend a few weeks at the Hill House to chronicle what they experience. After a few days of unexplained phenomenon, Nell's past comes out and she slowly begins to slip into madness. At which point, Dr. Markway's non-believing wife, Grace, arrives to take part in experiment, in spite of her husband's wishes.



The final act of the film is very taunt and it's a credit to the craftsmanship of it that nearly 50 years later, the film is still very suspenseful. The "haunting" sequences themselves have a somewhat hyperkinetic feel to them, yet are very focused in their execution. The final sequence is perfectly set in the darkness of the pathway leading up to the house. It reminded me of something that I think about whenever I'm driving in the middle of nowhere. I always think to myself that the only thing scarier than being alone in the darkness is seeing someone else.



--Popkoff

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cinema41 Presents Actress Sharon Farrell with "Out of the Blue."



I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to nervously conduct a Q&A with actress Sharon Farrell after Cinema41's screening of Dennis Hopper's "Out of the Blue" back in October. Sharon was unbelievably accommodating and generous and the screening was a great success. Check out the interview below, Sharon is great and some of her insights on Dennis Hopper will blow your mind. Also, check out the vid of Hopper performing the poem, "If," on the Johnny Cash Show.







--Popkoff

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"The Pregnancy Pact" (2010)



"So this is what it feels like to be Jamie Lynn Spears" - Some pregnant girl.

I've never really watched a Lifetime Movie before, although I've always suspected that there was a vast well of absurd, ironically funny, exploitative trash waiting to be explored. There are titles that I've always seen or heard about, like "Cyber Seduction" and "Invisible Child," but I haven't tried to track 'em down. So what did I think of "The Pregnancy Pact?"

There are a lot obvious plot-twists, over-the-top performance, and overly simplified commentary on hot-button issues. The representation of the main character, Sara, and the other girls is kind of hilarious. They're presented at sweetly naive plotters, intelligent girls who are just, you know, crazy (and definitely NOT stupid because that would be wrong). When one of the girls finally has her baby, the whole act of birth is presented as a horrifying trauma (complete with tearing "down there, stupid)." The aftermath of her birth is also presented as emotionally terrifying; as one of the other girls relays, "her grandmother has to force her to hold her baby."



Poor Thora Birch is in the movie as a Video Blogger/Reporter (a profession I'm sure won't date the movie at all). I've had a crush on her for a long time, she'll always be Enid to me. The third act is the best with the girls in-fighting and admitting to their own stupidity, Thora's big confession, and Sara being told off/left by her boyfriend and then she gets drunk and ends up in a hospital with alcohol poisoning (I've got to admit, it's kind of funny watching a pregnant teen run for help).

My favorite line occurs in the emotional breakdown between Sara and her parents when she argues against her parent's over-protectiveness by saying "at least my baby won't care if I have sex or not."

--Popkoff

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Slithis...Returns



The first post I ever made on this blog was about the 1978 shlock horror film "Spawn of the Slithis." I still think of this movie to this day, it is just such an absurd, weird piece of trash cinema. It's really really funny and charming in its own way. Anyway, the whole movie is on youtube so I thought it would be nice to post it here.

If you want to recreate the what it was like to see this movie at drive-in in the late 70's, check out the "SLITHIS SURVIVAL GUIDE."







--Popkoff

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pennies from Heaven (1981)



"I want live in a world where the songs come true. There must be someplace where those songs are for real." -- Arthur

One of the last movies I watched in 2011 was Lars Von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark," I had seen it before, but decided to revisit it because I was too happy. Tonight when I sat down to watch Steve Martin's first venture into the realm of drama, "Pennies from Heaven," I would have never thought that I would be comparing it to Von Trier's sobering slab of depression. Strangely the two films have more than a few things in common.



--Both are period pieces.

--Both involve a blind girl.

--Both involve a main character wrongfully accused of murder.

--Most of all, the musical conceit in both films is that the characters are escaping their depressing lives by imagining that they're living in a Hollywood musical.



It's an interesting movie, re-teaming Martin with the beautiful Bernadette Peters, but "The Jerk 2" this is not. It's funny how when comedic actors try their hand at drama the audience is usually so conditioned to laugh at them that their characters can get away with a lot of horribleness and still flip a switch and make the audience laugh. That happens often in "Pennies from Heaven," since Martin's character, Arthur, is such a terrible person.



There are times in the film that Arthur might pass as sympathetic despite his adulterous ways since he is so obviously in a loveless marriage, but the tactlessness of his behavior with his wife, not to mention his sexual aggressiveness with Bernadette Peters character, Eileen, make it nearly impossible. There is a pivotal scene in the middle of the film where Arthur returns home after threatening to leave his wife. She has been desperately awaiting his return and humiliates herself to please him sexually. The scene is tough to watch and seems out of place in the film, but in reality, the darkness of it reveals the true nature of "Pennies from Heaven."



Steve Martin is really good this, the redeeming aspects of his character lie in his inherent charisma, Arthur's desire to "be good," and his romanticizing of what reality should be. Christopher Walken is in the movie for about 5 minutes, and it's a total showstopper. It apparently took 2 months of rehearsal.



Bernadette Peters is also very very good, but rather than post a picture of her from the movie, I'm just going to leave this here:



The last act of the movie is particularly good, pretty much from the scene in which Arthur find Eileen prostituting herself. There's a sequence where to two of them go see a movie and are complete immersed in the lavishness and joy of the musical. When they walk out of the theater, the rain is pouring down and Arthur remarks "Always the same, Come out of the movies and the whole goddamned world has changed." That scene really spoke to me, I feel like that all the time.



--Popkoff

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Muppet Videos

Big Bird performs "It's Not Easy Being Green" at Jim Henson's Memorial.



Kermit the Frog performs "Rainbow Connection" with Debbie Harry.



Oscar sings the "Grouch Anthem" from "Follow That Bird."



--Popkoff

Friday, January 6, 2012

Blue Velvet (1986)



Cinema Confession: I had never seen "Blue Velvet" until tonight. I'm no stranger to David Lynch, I've seen 8 of his movies. I just never got around to his most famous. I really liked it a lot.



Dennis Hopper is great of course, but I really enjoyed the scenes between Kyle Maclachlan & Laura Dern. I do wish I wouldn't have waited so long to see it because there were so many scenes that I had heard about of the years. I wish I could have seen it totally fresh, but at any rate, it was worth the wait.

--Popkoff

Uh Huh

Photobucket

Jennifer & Heather in agreeance at Messy & Jerry's wedding.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Deadly Friend (1986)



First movie of 2012 (for some reason). I remember seeing this on television when I was a kid and of course, the basketball scene has haunted me ever since. Wes Craven's "Deadly Friend" is about Paul, a new kid in town and his home made robot, BB.



Paul & BB quickly make friends with Samantha (Kristy Swanson), a cute next door neighbor who has a violent and controlling father. They also quickly make an enemy in Elvira, a crazy neighborhood old woman (Ann Ramsey from "Goonies" & "Throw Mama From the Train").



The first half of the movie was pretty fun, especially the silliness that is Bebe, the robot. The scares are pretty good as well, especially Sam's nightmare about her father's bedroom invasion. Overall the acting was pretty over the top throughout, which wasn't really that bad until the second half required the actors to be taken seriously.



When Sam's father accidentally kills her while roughing her up, Paul can't bare the idea of her dying. He steals her body from the hospital and performs "experimental" surgery on her, implanting BB's "brain" into her's. He creates a Frankenstein-style version Kristy Swanson, I mean Sam, which results in the wild and violent deaths of all of the villains in the film, including yes, the infamous "basketball scene," which was much sillier than I remembered.



The "Silly-Meter" is off the charts in the second half of the film and you just can't take any of it seriously anymore. The ending in particular really comes out of left-field, but really it doesn't matter. Overall, "Deadly Friend" is pretty average, but it does have some fun sequences here and there, and even a couple moments of sweetness.



--Popkoff

Monday, January 2, 2012

Faves of 2011: Music Edition

Favorite Albums of 2011:

Milk Music - "Beyond Living" 12inch



This effortlessly blistering, riff-heavy 12-inch from Olympia, Washington's trio Milk Music ruled by speakers this year. Only six tracks and endlessly listenable, sludgy, loud, and driving. When I saw them at Chaos in Tejas, they did not disappoint.




Asobi Seksu - "Fluorescence" LP



When I first heard "Fluorescence" I thought that it was a nice Shoegazer/Dream Pop record, but not much more. I looked at the artwork, traditional 4AD style, surprisingly Asobi Seksu is on Polyvinyl Records. It wasn't until I saw them play at SXSW that I saw them as anything more that genre revivalists. They played the same songs that are beautiful on the record, but they completely rocked them out with wave after wave of white noise. When I listened to album again, I enjoyed even more. I saw them again at Fun Fun Fun Fest, where they rung the rage out of those ethereal Pop songs. It's that rare record that get better and better every time you hear it.



PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake" LP



I haven't really cared about a PJ Harvey album since 2000's "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea," which this album has some similarities to. To be honest, I kind of forgot about PJ Harvey, and this record was a nice reminder that she was still relevant. "Let England Shake" is so obviously good that it seems like a give-in for most end-of-the-year lists, but it deserves it because of how confident and self-assured Harvey is in her voice and songwriting abilities.



Seth Sherman - "When the Moment is True" LP



FULL DISCLOSURE: Seth Sherman is a friend of mine, but fuck it, his record is definitely one of my favorites from the past year. I've always been a fan of his acoustic picking on tracks like "Kids" & "It's Shown Me Nothing," but the bigger sound he put together for this record really blew my mind. If you are a fan of Pop sound in the vain of Dr. Dog, give the whole album a listen here:

http://sethshermanmusic.com/album/when-the-moment-is-true

Allison and Katie Crutchfield - a.k.a. Bad Banana, P.S. Eliot, & Waxahatchee



Thanks to the blog ICouldDieTomorrow I spent most of the year listening to many bands made up of the Sisters Crutchfield. Bad Banana is sort of like a female version of early Japanther, fuzzy, lo-fi, and infectious. P.S. Eliot is a more polished semi-acoustic version of that sound. Waxahatchee is somewhere between those two. These girls have chops. I just wish they'd come to San Diego and play a show.




Favorite Albums DISCOVERED in 2011:

Rexy - "Running Out of Time" (1981)



This shit's funky, dumb, messy, and fun. The song "Funkybutt" is a disco send-up with a Neil Hamburger-worthy throat-clearing. Check out "Don't Turn Me Away," which has a minimal Dub feel to it.



Chalk Circle - "Reflection" (1980)



All Female Punk Rock from DC...and all that that implies.



The Wind - "Where It's at with The Wind" (1982)



1960's influenced Power-Pop from Florida. Exuberant and catchy. Reminds me a little of Jonathan Richman.



Kebab - "We Live in a System" (1982)



Post-Punk lives on and on and on and on...



--Popkoff