Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

American movies, 1970-1979

from James William Guercio's Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
This is the only film directed by musician/entrepreneur Guercio, who, at the time of filming, managed Chicago (the band, not the city) in its "25 or 6 to 4" heyday. A tribute to John Ford's Monument Valley westerns and an ironic reverse-Easy Rider biker cops vs. sleazoid counterculture creeps black comedy, the film contains a great Robert Blake performance and Conrad Hall's gorgeous cinematography. It is eye-poppingly bizarre and compelling in its fine first half before turning into a plot-heavy cliched thriller in its second half, though it manages to get nice and weird again in its final ten minutes. I saw part of it in a hotel in Alabama before the TV broke. When I tried to fix it, I found several empty airplane-sized liquor bottles behind the set. That is to say, the bottles were the size found on airplanes, not the size of airplanes. My god, imagine an alcoholic hotel maid trying to hide a Lufthansa Airbus-sized bottle of Jim Beam. What a sight. I caught up with the whole thing on DVD a few years later.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My moviegoing: 2003

from George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Musicians on film

Musicians on film #22: The Feelies in Jonathan Demme's Something Wild (1986)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

American movies, 1970-1979

from William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My moviegoing: 2003

from Jean-Luc Godard's In Praise of Love (2001)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Community service interlude

I'm often irritated by the lack of imagination and variety in AP celebrity obituaries, which too often latch onto one generic facet of a person's career while ignoring lots of other interesting highlights. One would think that the only two roles Patrick Swayze ever had were in Dirty Dancing and Ghost and that Henry Gibson's only contribution to culture was Laugh-In. Swayze's best movie keeps getting ignored even though it was a hit, and the majority of Gibson's career is mysteriously absent even though it's loaded with gems. Here's my small contribution to rectifying these oversights.

My sister visited a friend in Dallas a few years ago, and they went to some bars downtown. A guy started hitting on them, and, in the course of expounding his philosophy of life, talked mostly about Patrick Swayze. He referred to Swayze as "The Swayz" and his dream was to save enough money to get a giant tattoo on his chest of The Swayz riding a surfboard in the center of the Polish flag (where his parents were from) (I'm not sure if Poland was the right country or not, but it was a European country. I think it was Poland.). I bet this man is crushed right now. Anyway, that tattoo, which I hope he finally obtained, references the best Swayze movie, curiously absent from all obituaries I've read or seen on the TV. I'm talking about Point Break, people. Point Break kicks ass. It's one of the funniest, craziest, weirdest, and most exciting big budget action movies of the 1990s. It's Kathryn Bigelow's biggest financial success (though I still think Near Dark is her best movie). It is a thing of kinetic beauty. With a cast that also includes such leaden presences as Keanu Reeves and Lori Petty, Point Break is benefited greatly by The Swayz, who keeps the whole ridiculous thing from imploding under the weight of its ambitious nuttiness. He's also very good in Donnie Darko.

Yes, Henry Gibson was on Laugh-In, but look what else he was in, and look what else he was great in (and these are just some highlights from a long and fantastic career):
The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis)
Kiss Me, Stupid (Billy Wilder)
The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman)
Nashville (Robert Altman)
The Blues Brothers (John Landis)
Innerspace (Joe Dante)
the 'burbs (Joe Dante)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Joe Dante)
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)
the voice of the eye-patched newspaper reporter Bob Jenkins on Mike Judge's TV show King of the Hill

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

American movies, 1970-1979

from John Frankenheimer's The Iceman Cometh (1973)

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Moviegoing: 2003

from John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven (1960)
James Coburn retrospective: Alamo Drafthouse

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First movie/last movie: Jacques Becker

Dernier atout (1942)
Le trou (1960)

Technically, Becker's first movie as a director was 1935's Tete de turc, but he disowned it, it's never come out on video or DVD, and there don't appear to be any stills from it online.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

American movies, 1970-1979

from Bruce Conner's Marilyn Times Five (1973)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Musicians on film

Musicians on Film #21: Shane MacGowan and Joe Strummer (and probably another Pogue) in Alex Cox's Straight to Hell (1987), which also features the rest of the Pogues, Elvis Costello, a pre-fame Courtney Love, Grace Jones, the Circle Jerks' Zander Schloss, Ten-Pole Tudor's Edward Tudor-Pole, Sy Richardson, Dick Rude, Xander Berkeley, Jim Jarmusch, Dennis Hopper, and Miguel Sandoval.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My moviegoing: 2003

from Alexander Payne's About Schmidt (2002)

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