Interesting little relic from 1971 about a hip, charismatic young guy named Skipper Todd (well played by Robert F. Lyons) who gets involved in a murder or two. He's not the serial killer the poster implies, but he is intriguingly amoral, playing the adoring kids of his California town off the disapproving older folks. Great footage of a world long-gone, with a nice late-in-the-movie appearance by a pre-Lou Grant Ed Asner. Richard Thomas, pre-John Boy, plays his buddy and Gloria Grahame, post-most of her career, plays Thomas' mom. I first heard of this movie decades before I actually saw it because the punk band The Angry Samoans have a song called "The Todd Killings" that pretty much just repeats the tagline of the poster over and over (and over). Via Warner Archives, of course.
This made my list of top movies of 2012, but I actually didn't see it until 2013, which explains its presence here. I chose this poster because, really, how amazing is Samuel L. Jackson in this movie? Pretty damned amazing.
This James Bond movie, the one Sean Connery returned for after skipping "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," gets a bad rap for being too damned goofy, but that goofiness is one reason I love it so much. You've got the gay assassins (one played by Bruce Glover -- Crispin's dad! -- and the other by jazz bassist Putter Smith), sausage magnate Jimmy Dean as an ersatz Howard Hughes, a fake moon landing being filmed, Blofeld in drag and Lana Wood appearing in a scene solely so Bond can make puns on her first ("Plenty") and her last ("O'Toole") names. What more could you want in a Bond movie? Or any movie, for that matter?
If someone put every annoying thing about the mid 1990s and stuck it in a trash compactor, the slimy, stinking cube that emerged would be this movie. Like I said in a Twitter comment (follow me here, sheep!), "The Jazz Singer" isn't as dated as this movie. Ridiculous, swirling graphics; loads of techno mumbo jumbo; awful music; annoying Angelina Jolie; even more annoying Matthew Lillard and Fisher Stevens, of all people, as a skateboarding (!) bad facial hair-wearing computer mastermind. Awful but fascinating. But mostly awful.
Strange 1946 movie based on the (then) popular radio show, "I Love a Mystery." I can't judge how close it came to the show -- heck, for the first 20 minutes or so, I had a hard time telling who the lead character was -- but I do know it was a fun, short ride, full of shrunken heads, nonsenical plot twists, schemes of revenge and an indoor "jungle" full of stuffed animals in the back of a taxidermy shop. I watched it on Turner Classic Movies, of course, and films like this are the reason I love that channel so much. "Citizen Kane" and "Casablanca" are great, to be sure, but movies like "The Devil's Mask" are probably never going to be seen anywhere else, and it's movies like this -- obscure, forgotten pieces of pop culture -- that make being a film fan so much fun.
It's too bad that Stallone "Judge Dredd" movie arrived here first, because American audiences who've never read the Judge Dredd comic books have an image in their heads of Dredd as just another lunkhead Stallone character, not realizing what a close-mouthed element of social satire he really is. This movie, simple and stark but still pretty funny, does a lot to reclaim the name of Dredd from the Stallone fiasco. Karl Urban (Bones in the new "Star Trek" movies) is great in the title role, never cracking a smile or (most importantly) taking off that mask. The plot is essentially the same as "The Raid: Redemption," but that barely matters. What counts is the convincing future world the filmmakers create and the bad, bad, badass at its center.
Watched this one with Allie, of course, and though it's a little out of my current wheelhouse, I give the makers of the Tinkerbell movies credit for injecting a certain spirit of high adventure and deep mythology into these straight-to-DVD films (there are four so far) when they could just crank out some asinine tie-in products and go out for coffee. I chose this poster image, by the way, to point out how diverse the world of Tinkerbell has become. Back when she made her debut in "Peter Pan" (one of my favorite Disney movies, incidentally), the concept of "diversity" went as far as the "What Make the Red Man Red" musical number.
Quick-thinking, fast-talking Lee Tracy is one of my favorite classic movie stars, but this high-concept 1938 comedy doesn't really know what to do with him. Tracy plays a would-be screenwriter who meets up with an ex-con and his clever wife, and parlays their experiences with crime into a ridiculously lucrative deal at a Hollywood studio. Naturally, the real criminals they've based their movies on eventually come calling, and naturally hijinks ensue until everything works out just swell in the end. Trouble is, Tracy is playing a guy who's both too nice and too naive, and the energy of his better movies ("Doctor X," "Blessed Event") never quite crackles.
Great idea -- celebrity chef takes revenge on obnoxious food blogger by putting him through a cuisine-centered torture regimen -- is torpedoed by so-so direction and an ending that stumbles into standard horror movie territory. Points to writer/director Joe Maggio, though, for convincing actual celeb chef Mario Batali to deliver a profanity-laden cameo.
I'm going to be writing more about this one for an upcoming project not related to this blog, but suffice to say I liked it more than I thought I would. When I heard that -- spoiler alert! -- the end of the film hinged on both a dance contest and a football game, I feared the worst. Actually, though "Silver Linings Playbook" does become a little too movie movie by that point, it doesn't matter much because by then you're rooting for these two crazy (poor choice of words) kids to get together. Plus, director David O. Russell gives the film -- especially the first half -- a rough, choppy look that mirrors the feeling Bradley Cooper's character could lose control at any time. Bonus points for delivering the first really committed performance I've seen from Robert De Niro in a long time.
In one of those notorious late '60s attempts (1970 in this case) by the studios to cash in on that oh-so-lucrative youth market, a group of random young guys are recruited to form a band (the titular Phynx) and sent behind the Iron Curtain to rescue a group of celebs well past their sell-by date (including Pat O'Brien, Rudy Vallee, Ruby Keeler, Joe Louis, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, the Lone Ranger, Tonto, Butterfly McQueen and, of course, Colonel Sanders). The would-be satire is at roughly the level of a rejected "Laugh In" sketch, and the songs are nothing you'll be humming while the credits roll -- thankfully. The movie is so bad that one of the bosses of the Super Secret Spy Agency (yes, that's the name) was doing a Bogart impression, but it was so lousy it took me half the movie to realize it. A fascinating time capsule that deserves to be re-buried as soon as possible.
A great movie, obviously. The greatest horror movie? Possibly. I wrote a whole lot about it a few years ago, and you can read it by clicking here.
Before screening this early Hitchcock on TCM, host Robert Osborne actually warned the viewers that the movie is very slow to start, and to be patient because it's worth the wait. He was right on both counts -- for a movie set on a moving train, it takes a while for that train to actually get moving. Once it does, though, the plot quickly kicks into gear and the fun begins. The disappearance of a nice old lady (Dame May Whitty) makes poor Margaret Lockwood worry that she's losing her mind, and it's up to stalwart Michael Redgrave (father of Vanessa and Lynn) that she can relax -- it's just a deadly conspiracy of foreign agents to blame.