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Heavy Metal, 1981

In a series of stories connected by the presence of a mysterious glowing green sphere that seems to bring out the worst in people, aliens and space explorers and sexually adequate robots work their way through a series of conflicts.

Ah, yes. One of those works of art that seems to testify as to both the creativity and utter lack of imagination of people working in the fantasy/sci-fi realm.

There's certainly plenty of talent on display here, including some really cool visuals and some winning voice performances. The absolute highlight is John Candy's "gee whiz!" performance as a bookish guy who is somehow transported across the galaxy and into the lumbering, muscular purple frame of an alien warrior who must rescue a statuesque Earth woman who is slated for human sacrifice.

But, to be blunt, it's hard to enjoy a movie like this when your eyes are rolling so much. There's a kind of self-awareness in some of the earlier segments that at least bring some humor to the rampant horniness, like the average Joe cab driver saying he must have "really turned on" the very obvious femme fatale who inexplicably decides to bed him. Or the "golly gee!" attitude of Candy's character.

But as the film goes on, the sameness of the adolescent jerk-off material starts to get really old. It's not that there's a lot of nudity so much as the fact that it's the same nudity over and over and over. Every story in this film has exactly one or two women, and they've all been traced from the same well-worn porn magazine. (Oh, they are also all white, because apparently in the future you can be purple but not Latino or Black). What starts out feeling indulgent and juvenile (but maybe in a fun way?) takes this turn into being pathetic. When the alien queen is revealed to be doing a human sacrifice in a cape and mask but also topless, I groaned. By the time the last segment began with a very familiar looking body putting on a g-string, I just felt embarrassed for the people making the film.

There is real talent involved in the different aspects of the film, but boy did it mostly feel wasted. By the second half, the word "boring" started rearing its head. This should have been a lot better.

It sounds like it is exactly what I thought it was. Glad I missed it back in the olden times.



It sounds like it is exactly what I thought it was. Glad I missed it back in the olden times.
I went in with a pretty generous mentality and it was NOT rewarded, LOL.



The Awful Truth - (1937)

After seeing quite a few old films with Cary Grant in them like Bringing up Baby and Arsenic and Old Lace last year, not to mention films by the likes of Leo McCarey (Make Way For Tomorrow) I have a whole line-up that I want to get through this year. The Awful Truth was pretty high up on the list, and it really is one of the good ones. The big surprise for me was Irene Dunne, who I don't think I've ever seen before, and seemed to match Cary Grant as well as have some kind of comedic connection with him that gave the pair great chemistry. She was quite funny - and of course Grant had just found himself as a comedian and romantic lead. These films open further doors, because Grant and Dunne also starred in My Favorite Wife and Penny Serenade together. I thought The Awful Truth was extremely funny, and McCarey seems to get the absolute most even out of actors who play peripheral characters - getting them to shine. Lucy and Jerry Warriner (Dunne and Grant) divorce because of their dishonesty with each other, but can't help but meddle in each other's love life because of the love they still have for each other. It's a simple plot that opens the door for a lot of fun, for the post-divorce romantic interests for each character have many flaws. Next up for me is Love Affair.

8/10
IMO Irene Dunne was one of the best comedic actresses of the 20th Century, even though she thought of herself as a serious dramatic actress. But she was so good at comedy that they kept putting her in those type roles. Good picture.





Bad Girls Go to Hell, 1965

Meg (Gigi Darlene) is home alone when she is sexually assaulted by her apartment building's janitor. When he comes after her again a short while later, she hits and kills him. Afraid that no one will believe she acted in self-defense, Meg flees the city and goes on the run. But at every turn she finds herself at the mercy of people who want to take advantage of her.

Doris Wishman really is her own little cinematic island, isn't she? And that island is full of people wearing full-body fishnets and an askew houseplant, isn't it?

In my writing about Indecent Desires, I said that it was hard for me to get a read on exactly what Wishman was thinking as she smashed together a pretty disturbing horror/fantasy plot with some very silly nudie-cutie content. Having watched this film, I only feel more confident in saying that there is a stronger sense of intent to be disturbing while offering up the requisite cheesecake sequences.

The premise at the beginning is a bit goofy, even for a Wishman film. Meg deciding that she needs to up and leave her husband because "no one would believe" that she was attacked by the janitor, but rather . . . seduced and murdered him? Doesn't wash. Still, once she hits the road, things go in a grungy, slightly-surreal direction and the film really picks up steam.

My favorite sequence was probably the first, in which Meg is picked up by a man named Al (Sam Stewart). While Meg---and probably every audience member watching--is wary of his intentions, he is shockingly not interested in her. And when she realizes this, she deliberately provokes his anger.

This is a real turning point in the film, because despite Meg's seemingly helpless situation, she's maybe not exactly the story of someone who is an innocent victim. The emphasis in the different sequences is not on the sex itself, but the scenarios around the sex. Repeated shots, like a certain angle on clothing being removed, cast this more as Meg's fantasy than the fantasy of someone objectifying her. As the film goes on, the scenarios become more "high-end" for lack of a better word, in the way that they are shot, the colors used, etc. (I also think the people playing her attackers got more attractive, but that might be a very subjective observation).

And this is very interesting in light of the final 10 minutes or so, where
WARNING: spoilers below
it is revealed that this was all a dream of Meg's.


But something that the film does that I really appreciated, despite it being kind of disturbing, is at the very end where (MAJOR SPOILERS)
WARNING: spoilers below
having woken from the dream, Meg goes out into the hallway where her dream assault actually starts to take place as she is cornered by the janitor. Unlike in the dream version where Meg softly resisted and only threatened to scream, in this real attack, she looks terrified. The film ends on her screaming in fear.

Women fantasizing about non-consensual sex is a highly fraught topic. What I appreciate in this film is the way that it delineates between fantasy and reality. A fantasy about non-consensual sex and actual non-consensual sex are two really, REALLY different things. One is entirely in control the of the person being attacked, while the other is entirely out of their control. I don't mind a sexploitation film exploring the idea of non-consensual fantasy, but I very much appreciate that this one takes the time to draw a firm underline under the "fantasy" part of the equation.


This is probably my favorite thing that I've seen from Wishman. While I definitely enjoyed Double Agent 73 in a laughing-at-it kind of way, this film was genuinely involving, with the thriller and sexploitation elements sitting much closer together thematically. Yes, this one has all of the usual things you expect in her films---like the same room being used multiple times as different locations, or the wild zooms---but here it almost universally elevates and fits the nightmarish vibes.






This movie started off with a yawn but progressively got better and better. I watched this on new years eve. A classic. Going to add it to my collection. 7.5/10
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10 Foreign Language movies to go

By http://www.moviegoods.com/movie_post...ffair_1939.htm, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23969647,

Love Affair - (1939)

Remade as An Affair to Remember in 1957, Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer manage to shade Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant and all-up I found this version to be the tighter and funnier when it mattered. I remember liking An Affair to Remember quite a bit, and I have to wonder now if having seen this will spoil the newer version for me. It probably will a bit, but I really like the story - and I wouldn't mind seeing either one again. Leo McCarey made both versions, which is quite unusual I think, since the two films are so alike. Anyway, seeing Irene Dunne again has me wishing I had more of her films lined up ready to go - I wasn't planning on getting into her to such a degree that I'd want to see more films she's in, so I expect I'll be adding quite a few to my watchlist. Dunne and Boyer are just fantastic together, their dialogue bounding along in perfect harmony. What a year for the Academy Awards in 1940, having The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Love Affair, Stagecoach, Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka and three other adapted literary classics up for Best Picture. On an average year, any one of them would win hands down. Next up, The Philadelphia Story.

8/10
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.




You thought I'd watch a movie where one guy asks another "Did she put up a fight?" and be . . . charmed?
I'm sorry, but I've seen this criticism of that line before, and I will never understand it; not to make a big deal about it because I'm otherwise a fan of Grease or something (since it's been way too long since I've watched it, and I'm not a huge Musical fan anyway), but the previous line in that song was literally "Was it love at first sight?", and then he says "Did she put up a fight?", which to me, implies that he meant "Was she hard to woo?" (as opposed to it being "love at first sight"), and not "Did she put up a fight as you were trying to get physically intimate with her, therefore making it non-consensual, and sexual assault?". I'm not saying it's a complete, 100% impossibility that the latter was meant, but the context makes me confident that it was more likely the former, and to just assume that he had to have meant the latter there feels like kind of a bad faith leap of faith in the assumption it makes, to be honest.



Victim of The Night


Heavy Metal, 1981

In a series of stories connected by the presence of a mysterious glowing green sphere that seems to bring out the worst in people, aliens and space explorers and sexually adequate robots work their way through a series of conflicts.

Ah, yes. One of those works of art that seems to testify as to both the creativity and utter lack of imagination of people working in the fantasy/sci-fi realm.

There's certainly plenty of talent on display here, including some really cool visuals and some winning voice performances. The absolute highlight is John Candy's "gee whiz!" performance as a bookish guy who is somehow transported across the galaxy and into the lumbering, muscular purple frame of an alien warrior who must rescue a statuesque Earth woman who is slated for human sacrifice.

But, to be blunt, it's hard to enjoy a movie like this when your eyes are rolling so much. There's a kind of self-awareness in some of the earlier segments that at least bring some humor to the rampant horniness, like the average Joe cab driver saying he must have "really turned on" the very obvious femme fatale who inexplicably decides to bed him. Or the "golly gee!" attitude of Candy's character.

But as the film goes on, the sameness of the adolescent jerk-off material starts to get really old. It's not that there's a lot of nudity so much as the fact that it's the same nudity over and over and over. Every story in this film has exactly one or two women, and they've all been traced from the same well-worn porn magazine. (Oh, they are also all white, because apparently in the future you can be purple but not Latino or Black). What starts out feeling indulgent and juvenile (but maybe in a fun way?) takes this turn into being pathetic. When the alien queen is revealed to be doing a human sacrifice in a cape and mask but also topless, I groaned. By the time the last segment began with a very familiar looking body putting on a g-string, I just felt embarrassed for the people making the film.

There is real talent involved in the different aspects of the film, but boy did it mostly feel wasted. By the second half, the word "boring" started rearing its head. This should have been a lot better.

Can't say I'm surprised this was not for you. As we know, this is probably one of my 10-25 favorite movies of all-time. But I was born at the right time and with the right set of hormones to match it.
That said, boobs aside, I think it's visually wonderful, smart, funny, exciting, and nostalgic. Every segment offers something really special to me. It's funny that the one that is most often cited as the "best" segment is one of the two with no boobs at all, and I know at least a couple people here have agreed to that point. But I find them all endlessly amusing, particularly Lincoln Stern's flirtation with the courtroom and the robot/Jewish girl affair while the two dope-fiend pilots trip on their last bag of Plutonium Nyborg (good Nyborg, man). But really, the best part for me is the final segment when the hero of the entire film, Taarna the Taarakian comes. She has actually been one of my favorite movie heroes, male or female, since I was 12 years old and she's a big part of the reason I was only ever attracted to strong, intense women (or maybe it's the other way around).
Ultimately, obviously this is a movie we just have to diverge on and wave as we pass as this movie was built by young males of the 70s for young males of the 70s (with anyone else it happened to hit with welcome to board) and I happen to be one of those.



Belfast -


There's a lot to like about this autobiographical movie by Kenneth Branagh, which recounts his childhood during the Troubles. I appreciate the unusual cinematography for how it appropriately makes almost every shot resemble a photo in a family album. Also, every main performance deserved to be nominated for an Oscar, my favorite being Jude Hill's Buddy, who obviously was not just selected for resembling a young Branagh. There's also the Van Morrison-heavy soundtrack and the scenes like the one after the opening credits that make it easy to understand why Buddy and his family wonder if they should remain in their hometown. Colin Morgan, who has come a long way from Merlin, is truly menacing as the self-appointed, Catholic-hating leader of the neighborhood, and the scary stuff thankfully doesn't shirk on the violence.

With no disrespect to Branagh's childhood, and despite what I like about his depiction of it, the end results amount to pretty boilerplate stuff. It wouldn't be far off to sum it up as "Academy-Award nominated coming of age movie." If you thus assume if there are scenes when Buddy tries to woo the prettiest girl in class, his grandparents dispense advice while playfully chiding each other, his parents argue about money and Buddy tries to process the local pastor's scary sermon, you'd be right. The movie has other issues, such as not totally committing to letting us view the Troubles through Buddy's eyes. Again, the quality of the production is top-notch, I appreciate its history lesson, and for the most part, I think it's worth watching. I just wish Branagh and company had taken more risks and dug a little deeper instead of prioritizing the likelihood of standing on award podiums.



I'm sorry, but I've seen this criticism of that line before, and I will never understand it; not to make a big deal about it because I'm otherwise a fan of Grease or something (since it's been way too long since I've watched it, and I'm not a huge Musical fan anyway), but the previous line in that song was literally "Was it love at first sight?", and then he says "Did she put up a fight?", which to me, implies that he meant "Was she hard to woo?" (as opposed to it being "love at first sight"), and not "Did she put up a fight as you were trying to get physically intimate with her, therefore making it non-consensual, and sexual assault?". I'm not saying it's a complete, 100% impossibility that the latter was meant, but the context makes me confident that it was more likely the former, and to just assume that he had to have meant the latter there feels like kind of a bad faith leap of faith in the assumption it makes, to be honest.
I think you are misreading the song. The whole point of the song is contrasting the way that the girls and boys talk about the summer relationship. The boys ask "Did you get very far?" the girls ask "Does he have a car?". The girls ask "Was it love at first sight?" and the boys ask "Did she put up a fight?". Danny does pelvic thrusts talking about what they did under the dock, she says "We stayed out past 10 o'clock."

Him asking if she put up a fight is definitely a sexual reference.

But really, the best part for me is the final segment when the hero of the entire film, Taarna the Taarakian comes. She has actually been one of my favorite movie heroes, male or female, since I was 12 years old and she's a big part of the reason I was only ever attracted to strong, intense women (or maybe it's the other way around).
I'd love to be on board with that final segment, but the degree to which she's fetishized totally takes me out of it. Especially the whole bondage sequence. She fails to be a character. She 80% a body being posed for a male audience and it's super disappointing. None of the female characters get personalities.



I don't see Stu saying anywhere that it isn't a "sexual reference," just that "did she put up a fight" means sweet-talking and persuasion, as opposed to force/assault.





Molly's Game, 2017

Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) is an Olympic-caliber athlete who, after a freak accident in a qualifying competition, finds her hopes of Olympic glory dashed. After floundering briefly, Molly finds her way into running high-stakes poker games. Eventually, this puts her on the radar of the FBI, and Molly turns to high profile lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) to help her beat some serious charges.

There are a lots of ups and downs in this based-on-a-true-story film. The performances are the definite strength, while the path of the story meanders at times.

Chastain is an assured lead as a woman who fakes it until she makes it to great success. Bloom comes from an incredibly accomplished family--with two brothers who achieve Olympic greatness and Ivy League success--and Chastain does a good job of embodying the way that this gives her both a confidence and an inferiority complex at the same time. Elba is charming as her blunt lawyer who just happens to be raising an accomplished teenage daughter and may see some of his hopes and fears in Molly. Elba and Chastain have an easy chemistry, and their scenes together are the strongest in the film.

As someone who doesn't gamble myself and really only gets exposure to it in movies and other pop culture, I appreciated that the film did just enough to keep me in the loop on the action without too much story-halting exposition.

But the writing ultimately drags this one down, despite the best efforts of the actors and a story that is pretty interesting. The narrative starts to spin its wheels around 2/3 of the way end, and I found the last 40 minutes to be a bit of a slog, even with the suspense about how Molly's case was going to turn out. The dialogue is very written, and as the film crosses the 80 minute mark, you can start to hear the actors trying to give fresh pace and tone to lines that sound a lot like what they've been saying for the last hour plus.

There are some good supporting turns. My favorite was maybe Bill Camp, playing a seasoned poker player who gets in too deep at one of Molly's games. The sequence of him losing his sense of proportion as he plays, and Molly's conflict over whether or not to cut him off, is one of the best parts of the film. Michael Cera is delightfully smarmy as an actor known only as "Player X". Kevin Costner tries his best as Molly's hard-driving father/coach, but the writing of his character is bad. Like, really bad. A scene at the end where he and Molly talk things out on a bench near a skating rink is pretty dreadful (starting with he knew that she'd be at the skating rink at this one specific location in New York City because he's a therapist and he's just that good, ya'll!).

It's a shame that I found the third act so lackluster. The opening half hour really sucked me into the film and I found it snappy and fun. But it all just slides steadily downhill as it goes until I got to the point where I just wanted it to be done and yet there was still half an hour left.

Fun performances, but the actors are ultimately let down by underwhelming writing and odd decisions in structure.




I don't see Stu saying anywhere that it isn't a "sexual reference," just that "did she put up a fight" means sweet-talking and persuasion, as opposed to force/assault.
I mean . . . yeah. Do I read the song as him asking if Danny raped Sandy? No, and I don't think I said that that's how I read it.

Is the phrase "put up a fight" in regards to getting a girl to sleep with you still a gross and kind of rape-y way to talk about having sex with someone? Yes. (In the "sanitized" version I saw with my students, they changed that line to "Did you stay out all night?" with a wink, which manages to give the same implications without any rapey undertones! Imagine!)

Is that lyric the least of the problems I had with Grease? Also yes.



10 Foreign Language movies to go

By MGM - http://poster.scancollections.com/view.php?id=443197, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/inde...curid=59843667

The Philadelphia Story - (1940)

Nice to see an adaptation of this play where we have age-appropriate actors for all the characters - I found Bing Crosby in High Society a little off-putting. Cary Grant though - I have no problem with that - I love Cary Grant now, after seeing a whole heap of his movies over the past year or two. I never knew that early Cary Grant would turn out to be a comedic persona, but as far as feature films are concerned he was a great comedian. Here, he shares the spotlight with other actors, mainly Katharine Hepburn (with whom he made many films) and a very young James Stewart. Fine performances throughout, and a great screenplay - I enjoyed this just as much as I'm enjoying other films from this era lately. They showcase upper-class hijinks without alienating the audience - a tricky thing to do. Next up : Heaven Can Wait.

8/10





Chains, 1949

Rosa (Yvonne Sanson) is married to Guglielmo (Amedeo Nazzari), and they have two young children. But Rosa's life gets badly shaken up when her former lover/fiance, Emilio (Aldo Nicodemi) arrives in town. Not only has Emilio been involved in criminal activity, his attempts to rekindle his relationship with Rosa starts as flirting and quickly escalates to threats and blackmail. With her family starting to suspect something is going on, Rosa is put under great strain.

This film is made up of two very different parts: the first of which is a bit more thriller-like, and the second that gets more heavily into drama. While the first half--or more accurately the first 2/3---is the part I found more compelling, it makes for a solid watch from beginning to end.

Sanson plays a character who is on the receiving end of threats, attitude, and snarky remarks from basically every man in her life. That includes not only her son and her former flame, but even her adolescent son, Tonino (Gianfranco Magalotti). In wanting to do the right thing, Rosa finds herself trapped between the demands of her family and the threats of her former lover. Emilio works to ingratiate himself into the local society, all the better to drop little loving and later poisonous words into Rosa's ear.

Probably the best aspect of the film is the implicit acknowledgement that Rosa is still very attracted to Emilio, at least sexually. There's an energy that hangs between them that's more than just the tension of Rosa not wanting her husband to learn her secret. But despite being attracted to Emilio, she doesn't want to give into that temptation. She doesn't want to leave her family. She doesn't want to betray her husband. And the extremes that Rosa goes to in order to avoid temptation--such as basically holing herself up in her home so she won't have to run into Emilio--only put her more on the spot with everyone else, especially her suspicious son.

To discuss the second part of the movie would necessitate giving away a rather large plot point. Let's just say that despite her best efforts, things blow up in a pretty intense way, and naturally Rosa is at the forefront of the fallout. Despite her protestations of innocence, no one believes her. It's definitely true that people are often punished for having been objects of desire or having "tempted" someone, even if that was never their intention. What happens to Rosa in the second part takes this dynamic to an extreme.

This film is definitely high melodrama. Depending on how you respond to characters looking beseechingly up into the camera as tears roll down their cheeks, your mileage may vary. For the most part I was on board. I did wish that the film had done a bit more to develop the relationship between Rosa and her husband or between Rosa and her children. I was also a bit mixed on the celebration of the suffering wife and mother. Because the film doesn't seem to argue that she shouldn't have been suffering, so much as it's arguing that she's a good wife and mother because she is so willing to suffer and not hold grudges about it.

The film is beautifully shot and a strong mix of suspense and drama.




I feel that line Grease is definitely rapey. And it's pretty obvious by the bros I'd see on dance floors get particularly invigorated by that line when they were singing along to it that it has been taken this way by a lot of people.


But I also don't think the song is condoning the way the guys are talking. I think it is a parody of the kind of egging on men will do with eachother. And, unfortunately, it comes from a real and observable place. If you're in a room with enough guys, it's rarely surprising when some comments start circling around these kinds of innuendos.


But, even though I think it is sort of satirizing that shit, the fact that the overall message of the film is 'cave into the expectations of others' makes the film seem kinda pro peer pressure so....at best the message becomes mixed.



But I also don't think the song is condoning the way the guys are talking. I think it is a parody of the kind of egging on men will do with each other. And, unfortunately, it comes from a real and observable place. If you're in a room with enough guys, it's rarely surprising when some comments start circling around these kinds of innuendos.
Right. I hope you're not all imagining that I was in my living room, my monocle shattered on the floor, fanning myself as I tried to recover from the idea that a teenage boy might have said something kind of problematic while talking about sex with other teenage boys.

But, even though I think it is sort of satirizing that shit, the fact that the overall message of the film is 'cave into the expectations of others' makes the film seem kinda pro peer pressure so....at best the message becomes mixed.
Exactly. As I wrote before, I think that the storyline itself is kind of muddled and lackluster, which means you have to lean on the characters. But very little about how these characters go about romance is very fun or healthy to me. I want to root for them, but there's very little to hold on to in that regard. It's not realistic enough to go that way, nor is it fun enough to lean that way.



The trick is not minding
Right. I hope you're not all imagining that I was in my living room, my monocle shattered on the floor, fanning myself as I tried to recover from the idea that a teenage boy might have said something kind of problematic while talking about sex with other teenage boys.

This is exactly how I imagined your reaction was. Only, replace monocle with heart palpitations. Said heart palpitations were brought on by Travolta’s pelvic thrusting. Which explains the need for fanning yourself.