El Topo (1970) ***1/2

Recommended if you enjoy banditos with shoe fetishes, armless men with legless men strapped to them and/or randy elder women demanding pampering from negro menservants.


The Grapes Of Wrath (1940) ****

Sadly, I've never read the book.

Recommended if you enjoy frequent squatting men, police officers who throw rocks through windows and/or grossly overloaded cross country trucks.

This is only the 5th John Ford film that I've seen.
Of those, I own two: Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) & The Searchers (1956).

Watching Blu-rays most of the time makes watching DVDs no fun any more.
I'm too much of a quality freak to ever want to stream a movie either.


Soundtrack LPs That I Own

(Click to largify)

I need more soundtracks on vinyl.
A nice variety to the few that I do own, if I do say so myself... and I just did.
Some obvious Kubrick love going on here.


Vampyres (1975) *** [Lesbian Vampire Double Shot Pt. 2]

More ridiculous beauties chowing down on the red stuff.
This one is slower, more bloody, more lesbiany, more vampiry, more sexified (copious nudity) and not as good overall compared to Pt. 1 of the LVDS, but still fun.


Daughters Of Darkness (aka Les Lèvres Rouges) (1971) ***1/2 [Lesbian Vampire Double Shot Pt. 1]

Enjoyed this one even more the second time.
A perfect blend of style, eroticism, lush cinematography, interesting camera shots and mysterious music.

Delphine Seyrig is just so damn seductive; I don't know how Danielle Ouimet escapes her charm for as long as she does.

Dare I say it, this film has too much hotness to be contained in one moving picture...?

Apocalypse Now Redux (1979/2001) ****1/2

This was my first time watching Redux & my third time watching the film.
The added scenes are good, but not necessary.

Recommended if you like helicopters, explosions, olive green, poetry, smoke and/or sweat.

The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic...with extreme prejudice.


Army Of Shadows (1969) **** [CC Night #8]

So, I don't know if anybody who reads my blog pays attention to this or not, but with my Criterion Collection Night posts, I state three (usually humorous) reasons why you might enjoy watching the film viewed, which is a parody of Criterion's Three Reasons.

Recommended if you enjoy Resistance fighters who spend 90% of their time getting captured by the enemy, poorly executed parachute jumps by men with glasses taped to their faces and/or swift badass knife-to-chin action.



Se7en (1995) ****1/2

Tonight's film viewing was based on majority vote from my Facebook friends.

"This is not even my desk."

"He's a nut-bag! Just because the fucker's got a library card doesn't make him Yoda."


Vanishing On 7th Street (2010) **1/2


Brad Anderson has made two good films, one excellent film, one so-so film (that I've seen) and directed some good episodes of TV shows.
I feel like he has it in him to make another excellent film. Will this be it...?

Doctor Zhivago (1965) *****

The epic to end all epics.

What's great about this film is that it's so simple at its core and manages to stay interesting for over 3 hours.

Eventually, I'll get around to reading the novel.

Here's a great rendition of Maurice Jarre's memorable theme, as perfrmed by Chet Atkins:


The Soundtrack Of Our Lives

The following is a comment that I left in response to a blog post by horror film shirt-makers Fright-Rags. I thought I'd post it here as well.

This is just what springs to mind at the moment. I guess my list is less about very specific memories overall and more about landmarks in my life.

The Cure 'Disintegration' & 'Mixed Up
What I would play while making love to my first girlfriend, who was also my first love.

Nerf Herder 'Nerf Herder'
One of the many CDs I would play on my car stereo at night as a teenager while causing trouble with my friends around our home towns.

Michael Jackson 'Thriller' & various 'Weird Al' Yankovic albums
I used to play these on cassette on my rad silver boombox in my toy room in the mid 80s. I miss that boombox dearly. 'Thriller' is also one of only two albums that I've owned on cassette, vinyl and CD; the other is the B-52's first album.

Fishbone, INXS & Living Coloür
Bands that my cousin Bryan got me into, by giving me his old cassettes. Helped to diversify my musical tastes.

Aphex Twin & Tricky
I bought the 'I Care Because You Do' and 'Maxinquaye' CDs in 1995 from BMG because they were in my catalog under "Electronic" music. I don't even know why I bought them, but I remember when I got them that I had never heard music like this before and that my musical tastes would forever be changed and further diversified.

The Reverend Horton Heat 'Liquor In The Front'
The first vinyl record that I ever bought, which I bought from a music store on the Hampton Beach strip. Later on in life, I would come to realize that the owner of the store where I bought that record, along with many bootlegs, posters, etc, was a customer of mine, when I worked for Newbury Comics. Circle of life.

Fugazi 'Red Medicine'
Another album I bought from the Hampton Beach store and a band that became very important to me, and still is. This is the first album that I bought by Fugazi and is still my favorite album by them.

The Cars
They just make me think of summer in general and also of driving. I recently got to see them live with my mother, which was special since the reason I love The Cars so much is because my Mum played them a lot when I was young. The show was great and they are still awesome - I like the new album a lot!

The Tree Of Life (2011) ****

I liked this film a lot.

If you like Terrence Malick films (story and traditional narrative are not typically the focus), you may or may not like this one, but you should have at least an inkling of what you're getting into if you go see this.
I've now had the priviledge of seeing 3 of Malick's films in the theater, when they were released. That's not bad, considering the only other 2 films that he has directed were both released before I was born.

I also like The Fountain a lot, another film which I feel Tree has similarities to and which has also been described as "pretentious". It's hard to avoid 2001 comparisons, but this is definitely a different type of film. I actually think this summary, from a user on IMDb, hits it home pretty well:

How can you sum up trees? and life? If a summary was possible then the film it'd deal with would be artificial.
23 May 2011 | by WilliamCrocodile (France) – See all my reviews
Many things have and will be said about this movie. Regardless of the easy critics: it's boring, there's no action, it's self-indulging, etc.., I would only add this. There will always be 2 kinds of people (whether they are film-goers, tourists, readers..): the ones who like to "recognize" things (the same stories being told, who is the hero, who is the villain? the same places to go to, the same food...) and the ones who like to discover new things. As to the film, why don't you try it? How many films have you seen that take your hand and take you to a place you've never been before? On the contrary how often do you understand everything from the very first minutes of a movie? who is going to marry who, who is the bad guy, who's going to betray, will there be a happy end? Aren't you ever fed up with this? Try and see The Tree Of Life. It's about growing up in a family. It's about seeing the world through children's eyes. It's a very American story, and what it's like to be torn between religion, ideals and the lust for success and power and money. It's about betrayal by the people you trust. It's about love.

You may not like it but at least you'll have tried. Be curious!

Yes, some parts felt slow, but some were beautiful, uplifting, curious, confusing, fantastical, ominous, anger-inducing, funny, awe-inspiring.

Just like life, yes?


Further discussion between Rygar (who went to see this with me) and I:

RG: I have some thoughts on themes in the movie.  I think more so than it being about love, which I believe is one theme, that it is about God.  About an hour into the movie I started to notice (whether it was intended by Malick or just my imagining) that Brad Pitt and his wife each seemed to represent what we know to be God.  Brad Pitt represented the vengeful, egotistical, old testament-esque God, while the mother represented the caring, and nurturing God.  He had some lines that really stuck out like “you will call me father, not dad” and “Can I ask you to do something and you have to do it no matter what it is”.  He would make his “children” do things that are completely asinine simply to appease him, much like many religions believe of their “God”  The mother was the more caring, loving God, the way she acted throughout the film.  This is the one theme I sort of clinged onto throughout the film that kept me going and kept me really interested in what was happening next.  Thoughts?

DS: Yes. Absolutely. I'll be honest though, it probably would have taken a second viewing for me to pick up on that, because I was too absorbed in the visuals.

Re: another comment from an IMDb user: “...when the one dinosaur refrains from stomping on the other one, it's meant to represent the evolutionary development of mercy, aka grace, which is one of the big themes of the movie.”

To which I added:

DS: I think it paralleled the ape scenes in 2001, whether intentional or not.

In 2001, the ape finds a bone and discovers that he can use it as a weapon against other apes (and eventually other species), sowing the seeds of violence.
In Tree, the dinosaur that chooses not to kill another dinosaur discovers compassion, sowing the seeds of love (yeah, Tears for Fears!).

[End Spoilers] 

P.S. - TM already working on another project? Sweet! This man does not put out films terribly often.


Giallo Films That I Own & Have Seen

Inspired by the Movie Matters Podcast #8 - Giallo Special, I decided to get all the giallo films from my personal collection together for a photo op.

Just look at all those lurid covers (click pic to enlarge)!
Yep, a whole kitchen table full (almost) o' Giallo-y goodness.

Here's the rundown:

26 titles
14 released by Blue Underground
4 released by NoShame (R.I.P)
4 released by Anchor Bay
2 released by Shriek Show (Media Blasters)
1 released by Severin
1 released by Mya

1. The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) [Courtesy of the maestro]
2. Perversion Story (1969) [This actually wasn't on Wikipedia! I added it]
3. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (1970) [Responsible for the popularity of the giallo film]
4. Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)
5. The Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion (1970)
6. A Lizard In A Woman's Skin (1971) [2 DVD releases] [There is another, supposedly superior, DVD release available, but I can't see buying a third version, when a Blu-ray seems inevitable (Pleeeease?)]
7. The Fifth Cord (1971) [I dig this one]
8. The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh (1971) [A goody]
9. The Case Of The Scorpion's Tail (1971)
10. The Black Belly Of The Tarantula (1971) [Lots of babes]
11. Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971)
12. (A) Bay Of Blood (1971) [The first true slasher film?]
13. Death Walks On High Heels (1971) [This and the following film are part of The Luciano Ercoli Death Box Set]
14. Death Walks At Midnight (1972) [Not on Wikipedia either! Added]
15. The Case Of The Bloody Iris (1972)
16. Don't Torture A Duckling (1972) [Well crafted & highly re-watchable]
17. Who Saw Her Die? (1972) [Strong entry]
18. Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key (1972) [Best giallo title ever? One of my favorites - Edwige Fenech & Anita Strindberg in the same film - yum!]
19. Seven Deaths In The Cat's Eye (1973) [Slow, more Gothic, average]
20. Autopsy (1975) [An atypical giallo]
21. Deep Red (1975) [2 Blu-ray releases] [Can't be beat]
22. Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975) [Trashy and awesome]
23. The Pyjama Girl Case (1977) [I like this one, it's a bit different]
24. The New York Ripper (1982) [Ultra trashy and nasty]
25. Opera (1987) [The last truly excellent Argento film]
26. The Stendahl Syndrome (1996) [This one grows on me with each viewing; I used to not think much of it; it's really strong, but flawed]

Note #1: My reference was the Wikipedia page. I didn't include giallo-like or giallo inspired films, such as Santa Sangre (1989) or Se7en (1995). Though if I may recommend a film clearly inspired by Bava and gialli: Amer (2009).

The titles on the Wiki page that I have seen, but do not own are as follows:

1. Blood And Black Lace (1964) [Classic; needs a BD!]
2. (The) Short Night Of (The) Glass Dolls (1971)
3. The French Sex Murders (1972) [This is a weird one]
4. What Have You Done To Solange? (1972) [This is one that I ought to own, but I'd rather wait for a Blu-ray at this point]
5. All The Colors Of The Dark (1972) [Another great, psychedelic one]
6. The Killer Must Kill Again (1975)
7. The Psychic (1977)
8. Killer Nun (1979)
9. The Black Cat (1981) [Listed on the Wiki page and I own it, but I don't consider it a giallo.]
10. The Scorpion With The Two Tails (1982) [To be 100% honest, I actually fast forwarded through most of this; it's terrible]
11. Murder Rock (1984) [Cheeeese; love it]
12. Stagefright (1987) [Very enjoyable]
13. Giallo (2009) [Not terrible, but a shame it's not as good as it could have been]

Note #2: These titles are arranged chronologically by year, in the order listed on the Wiki page, but not specifically by month released (I don't feel like being that anal). The release years that I listed above are according to IMDb, which is probably more accurate than the Wiki page (not all release years correspond between the two pages).

Note #3: The link from the title of this blog is the giallo section of  my DVD Aficionado page. I honestly don't know why The New York Ripper is not listed as a giallo. The Bava films (The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Five Dolls For An August Moon and (A) Bay Of Blood) don't appear on that page because they are part of the Anchor Bay box sets (Volume 1, Volume 2) , listed elsewhere.

Note #4: Interestingly enough, you may notice that there is room on my kitchen table for 3 more titles.

There are 3 giallo films (all listed on the Wiki page) which I previously owned on DVD that have upcoming/current Blu-ray releases, which I plan to pick up:

The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971[Blue Underground BD available] [waiting to compare this to Arrow BD due 9/2/11 before purchase]
Torso (1973) [Blue Underground BD due 7/26/11]
Tenebr(a)e (1982) [A great, great giallo] [Arrow BD due 6/27/11]

My Top 3 Gialli (requested by Michael to be used for the voting of the titles chosen to be discussed on the podcast):

1. Deep Red
2. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage
3. A Lizard In A Woman's Skin

P.S. - The only reason that Opera wasn't my #3 was because I didn't want my list that was submitted to Movie Matters to be Argento exclusive. Also, I love a lot of the "trashier" gialli, but I chose to go the "classier" route.

P.P.S. - The House With Laughing Windows (1976) ranked fairly high on Michael's poll, and I haven't seen it yet, so I added it to my Netflix queue.

P.P.P.S. - Whew! This post took a lot longer than I expected, soooo... listen to the podcast, click all those links, watch some gialli, leave comments and have fun!!!


X-Men: First Class (2011) ****

Pleasantly surprised.
Really enjoyed this.
As my friend Rygar stated, it hits all the right emotions at all the right moments.
Lots of random cameos and bit parts from quasi name actors.

Santa Sangre (1989) ***1/2

Jealousy, revenge, circus performers, blasphemous religion, armless mothers, deaf/mute lovers, hallucinations and dying elephants.

I actually found this to be more narrative than either El Topo or The Holy Mountain.
It feels simpler, more straightforward and a bit less self-conscious.
It's still bizarre...but it has heart.

I enjoyed the first half of the film more though, well perhaps the first 2/3rds.
The end starts to feel a little cliche (elements of giallo) and there's no real great mystery revealed (at least, not to me).

It felt similar to Hardware, in that both films seem like they should be so kick ass on the surface, but some of the execution left me feeling just the slightest bit let down. Incidentally, Simon Boswell scored both these films.

But the visuals are superb and most of the performances are great, particularly Blanca Guerra and the director's son's (Axel Jodorowsky) physical performance.
I'll never complain about Perez Prado songs on a soundtrack either.


King Kong (1933) ****

Recommended if you enjoy freshly chewed/stomped natives, broken Allosaurus jaws and/or Fay Wray screaming over and over and over again.



Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) *****

The perfect western.

Sound, music, beauty and brutality, mixed to perfection.

"Can't imagine how happy it makes a man to see a woman like you. Just to look at her."


My Morning Jacket 'Circuital' (2011) ***1/2

This album is real good.
It doesn't quite give me the boner that the new Death Cab does, but it's solid.

Also: this song gives me major wood. An atypical song for MMJ (very little guitar). I find myself often liking the songs/albums by bands that sound the least like them and/or are more "produced". All the early material MMJ snobs probably hate this tune.

Death Cab For Cutie 'Codes And Keys' (2011) ****

First listen: I thought, "this is decent, some good tunes". ***
Second listen: I thought, "this is really good, I'm liking it more." ***1/2
Third listen: I thought, "you know what, this album is excellent." ****

I can't believe I've been listening to this band for 11 years.
[Stereotypical comment about how I'm old]


Machete (2010) ***1/2

Jeff Fahey: easily my favorite thing about this film.

This one's got it all - blood, boobs and bullets.
And a cast that you wouldn't expect to see in a movie like this.

Wished the studio had opted to use this poster as the Blu-ray cover.