Rock's Cheapo Theatre of the Damned

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I had not even heard of it, so will add to the watchlist on your recommendation. I think Scanners has a bunch of sequels as well? I remember them playing on a specialty horror cable channel back in the day (that gave out endless free previews until it went off the air), but don't think I've seen them discussed much otherwise.

I've had Begos' VFW on my radar for quite some time, will get to it one of these days...
I haven’t watched any of the Scanners/Scanner Cop sequels, though I do one day hope to.

Begos is a dude who has a Cannon group sensibility to everything he makes so that no matter what the budget, there’s an earnestness to his splatter fests that appeals to me. TME is his Cronenberg riff, Bliss is his Near Dark/Hunger and VFW is his Assault on Precinct 13. But all filtered through that Cannon Group rip off filter. And I mean that in a very positive way.

Victim of The Night
I'm gonna suck your brain dry.

I've probably hit that point where I'm overdue for a Scanners rewatch.
Still haven't seen Crimes of the Future yet. Currently plan to do so relatively soon.

Scanners is on the Criterion Channel if you have that.

Good (for others) to know.
I also have the Criterion Blu-ray. I watched it at least once around the time of its purchase and then I think I saw a 35mm projection of the movie a year or two later. I'm just about due (but there's still so much I've bought that I've never seen), ya know.

I hope my friends south of the border are doing their patriotic duty by watching a great American film. For example,

Currently slated to be watching Crimes of the Future today. I think tomorrow it's, Crimes of the Past.
That's American enough, right?

Currently slated to be watching Crimes of the Future today. I think tomorrow it's, Crimes of the Past.
That's American enough, right?
Canada Day was a few days ago, so I'll allow it.

Watching Gamera vs Barugon, the Japanese cut no less. I'm a poor excuse for an American
IIRC Barugon shoots rainbows, so I'm sure you can find the colours of the American flag in there somewhere.

IIRC Barugon shoots rainbows, so I'm sure you can find the colours of the American flag in there somewhere.
One character puts the entire nation at risk of getting squashed by Barugon just so he could have one diamond. That seems pretty American in spirit.

Public Affairs (Pachard, 1983)

This review contains mild spoilers.

As my friends south of the border are celebrating their Independence Day, I figured I would join in vicariously with my viewing choices. And what better way to celebrate than with a pornographic political satire? I mean, the poster has the American flag as well as an appealing shot of Annette Haven's back, so how can you lose? Probably the most impressive thing about Henri Pachard's Public Affairs is how heavily it commits to actually working as a political satire. (His western Showdown, which I enjoyed, had a play-acting quality, but this feels like the real deal.) The politician here, a congressman running for senate played by Paul Thomas, actually has a defined set of political accomplishments and positions, namely a proposal to loosen land ownership disclosure laws in exchange for foreign contributions, as well as an anti-pornography agenda. The latter marks him as an obvious villain in the genre, although the movie stretches some credibility when it has him endorsed by a radical feminist anti-pornography activist (who happens to secretly be a sex maniac), when in reality his supporters would more likely be the Evangelical right. The movie is cagey about which side of the spectrum he's running from outside these handful of proposals. It's also interesting that he stresses his outsider status and business credentials ("I'm proud of being a businessman, that's what New York needs, a businessman"), which invites comparison to a certain modern day politician, but really has been a card played in political campaigns since Watergate cast a stain in the public eye on established insider status. Now, if I can briefly spoil the ending (skip to the next paragraph if you don't want it ruined), while it probably read as cynical during its original release, but it might seem a bit more optimistic in present day. Sure, it's disappointing that blatant corruption couldn't bring down the crooked politician and it took revelations of his infidelity to do it, but at least that stuck.

In contrast, you can look at Cecil Howard's Spitfire, which carves out its politician as having a moralizing, anti-sex agenda but doesn't try to define it in any coherent terms. This also compares favourably to that movie in terms of the lead performance. In Spitfire, Robert Kerman played the politician as too obviously sleazy, to the point that it was unlikely he would succeed with the demographic he was supposed to be pulling votes from. Here, Paul Thomas plays the character with a lot more polish and coldness, and is compelling especially when showing his lack of scruples in private. From having listened to a bunch of Rialto Report interviews, I've gotten the impression that Thomas was a bit of an ******* or at least pretty full of himself, and without relitigating beefs that I have no further insight into, those qualities lends itself well to his performance here. I think his performance does suffer in that he comes off a bit too calculated, so that he comes off like a real politician but not one who would be as popular as this movie purports him to be. (I do think Spitfire is worth checking out as Howard is a reliably strong visual stylist, and it has a good supporting cast, particularly Tigr as Kerman's nymphomaniac daughter.)

This movie does have a dilemma inherent to pornography, in that the sex scenes maybe work at cross purposes with the dramatic thrust in the movie. The sex scenes are quite well executed (in large part thanks to the enthusiasm of the performers), but many of them feature Thomas treating his assistant played by Annette Heinz quite badly. (I should note that the bad treatment is in terms of emotional callousness, not sexual assault, the latter of which is frequent enough in the genre that I feel the need to add a disclaimer here. I should also note that the sex scenes will frequently cut to dramatic moments or montage through them, which I would wager upset the raincoat brigade but pleased the "watching it for the plot" brigade.) These scenes are clearly supposed to be hot (and, ahem, mission accomplished), but we're also supposed to empathize with Heinz. And I think she does give the movie some heart, doing some reactive work during her scenes that I found quite affecting. (One especially tricky moment has her climax while on the verge of tears.) I'd only seen her in one other movie and don't recall her performance there, but I was quite impressed with her in this movie and am interested to seek out more of her films.

The other supporting role that surprised me was by Joey Silvera as Thomas' campaign manager, a former pimp who feels a certain loyalty to Thomas for having given him a second chance. There's a nice texture to his performance, a mixture of desperation, misguided loyalty and moral conflict conveyed with elegant understatement. I've found him a reliable supporting player in the genre, but this is the best I've seen him. Of course, as you round out the cast, you have to get to the gal on the poster, and Annette Haven gives the real movie star performance here. I liked the way the movie painted her sexual agency as a sign of independence and strength, in contrast to the sleaziness of Thomas and his donors. Haven has to put up with an amusingly annoying George Payne, who keeps whining about Haven's insistence of pursuing this story and also runs out the door the moment they finish having sex. Robert Kerman shows up as Thomas' biggest donor, mangling a German accent and spouting a bunch of probably fake German ("the language of love") for comic relief. He has the good fortune to be married to Kelly Nichols, who provides a nice, low key counterpoint to the more overtly comedic and dramatic performances around her and imbues a not entirely positive character with a certain dignity. If there's a theme here outside the politicking, it's of women having to put up with subpar men.

The Image of Bruce Lee (Yang, 1978)

Of the Bruceploitation stars, Bruce Li is probably the best actor, but his relative seriousness and respect for the real Bruce Lee's legacy mean that his movies often lacked the more eccentric charms of the genre. (There are exceptions. Bruce Lee in New Guinea features a romance between him and the princess of a snake worship tribe, who happens to have a martial artist gorilla.) You can see him ground the raw cynicism of The Chinese Stuntman and Soul Brothers of Kung Fu (the former of which he also directed), but those movies were good enough in a genuine sense to support his work. But in a movie like Goodbye Bruce Lee: His Last Game of Death, you can see him struggle to breathe life into the rote material or make a case for why it might be preferable to watch him in this than to revisit one of the real Lee's movies.

It's a problem that also affects The Image of Bruce Lee AKA Storming Attacks. This one saddles him with a really generic crime plot, something to do with counterfeit money and diamonds and... I confess I watched this when I was pretty tired so I missed some of the details. It's probably my fault but I'm going to blame the movie, as I don't think delivered this material with much enthusiasm. There are the requisite fight scenes, and they're filmed well enough by the standards of the genre, but while Li is a talented martial artist, most of the action feels a bit too pedestrian, too perfunctory to make an impact. Only the climax, with its distinct stop-start rhythm, makes much of an impact. This final fight scene is doubly enjoyable because the lead actress Dana wears a cute sweater (featuring a dog with sunglasses) and kicks one of the bad guys in the balls. She follows this with a scene where she's pestered about her love life, makes a wife beating joke and gets a very awkward freeze frame to end the movie. Ten good minutes isn't enough to save a movie, but it's a start.

At this point I should mention that I went through three different YouTube uploads of the movie before I found a version with nudity. And maybe my sense of perspective has been destroyed by my interest in a certain genre, but there isn't even that much. I apologize if I sound like a degenerate here, but when the movie is doing this little for you on the whole, you take what you can get. As it says in the bible, "Judge not that ye not be judged."

I also must make reference to the production company credited on of the copies, "Goldig Films (H.K.) Ltd.". The logo and name bear a suspicious resemblance to Golden Harvest, while the accompanying fanfare sounds a lot like the music for Shaw Brothers. The logo suggests you'll get the best of both worlds, but the movie does not deliver.

Next time , be more specific.
Rock, have you seen Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs?

I saw it long ago and kind of forgot about it until I was reading up on another of his films. If you haven't, it sounds like something you might like.

It was reviewed as "Nine Songs looks like a porn movie, but it feels like a love story. The sex is used as a metaphor for the rest of the couple's relationship."

Rock, have you seen Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs?

I saw it long ago and kind of forgot about it until I was reading up on another of his films. If you haven't, it sounds like something you might like.

It was reviewed as "Nine Songs looks like a porn movie, but it feels like a love story. The sex is used as a metaphor for the rest of the couple's relationship."
I have not but... *pulls up Letterboxd* is on the watchlist. (I'm never gonna get through the whole thing, am I?)

lol @ the runtime

24 Hour Party People is one of my favourite movies of the 2000s and The Trip movies gave me some of the biggest laughs of recent comedies, so Michael Winterbottom is okay in my book. He seems to be one of the few people who knows how to use the full force of Steve Coogan's talent in a movie.