Random Films of the Week: Some Clock Cleaning Before Things Go Cuckoo

Hey, it’s not Friday, but it may be by the time I complete this post. Anyway, here’s a few more films I finally sat down and watched. It stinks not having a flick watching partner to bounce things off of, but so it goes. I suppose a resolution can be made to rectify that, but you all know that sort of pressure makes for an often crappy time when you go rubbing lamps hoping for the correct results (he noted, cackling madly). Anyway, some of these were screeners, a few were bought for the library and almost all come recommended for assorted reasons.

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Suture – It’s a gimmick film with one huge gimmick, but it’s a good one and writer-directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee do a decent Hitchcock riff on a few fronts with this thriller/mystery mash-up. Shot in glorious black and white with a solid as a rock cast, this is one of those indie films that packs a wallop and isn’t afraid to use your brain as its target. The interesting thing is the film also works without the gimmick as a pure thriller, so you can indeed re-watch this and see it from a different perspective.

I saw this a few times in theaters back in 1993 and later on cable and it still works as a great little film worth tracking down. Arrow Video’s restoration job is great and you get way too many bonus features that make this an automatic buy right out of the gate.

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Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films – Mike from Mike’s Take on the Movies recommended this to me a while back and I finally got off my butt and nabbed a used copy cheap off eBay. As a former subscriber to Variety way back in the early 80’s, I have too many memories of first Golan/Globus and later, Cannon Films getting page after page of coverage and not all of those films actually hitting theaters. This hugely entertaining doc explains why and how Cannon went from super boom to super bust partially because of the company overplaying its potential as a hit factory.

Like some of those films, this doc tosses in nudity, some gore and other mildly shocking bits, but it also does a phenomenal job of showing the studio’s rise with its major hits and crunching fall from grace after too much money wasted on things that now kill many other projects outright. Still, when Cannon had its good years, they gave movie fans some of the best and cheesiest “classics” of that era. Grab this doc and a few friends for a total blast from the past.

 

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Dillinger – As a biopic, John Milius’ debut film does some of the expected playing around with historical events surrounding the famed bank robber’s life you’d expect. But thanks to some stellar casting (Warren Oates totally OWNED this role) and excellent cinematography by Jules Brenner (who made a million dollar movie look like one that cost a lot more), you’re getting an enjoyable, violent crime flick that recalls pre-code Hollywood but with that 70’s independent film thing going for it.

Nope, it’s not for all tastes, but if you’re one who loves your historical villains doing their dirty deeds and meeting their makers in somewhat ironic fashion, I’d say this one’s for you. That and hell, Harry Dean Stanton gets in one of the best pre-dying lines you’ll ever hear before he gets his but good. I always bust out laughing when I see this film and that part pops up. Not a perfect film, but yet another Arrow Video restoration that’s a fine library addition for genre fans.

 

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Mussolini: The Untold Story – If you loved three-plus hours of George C. Scott as Patton, I’m gathering you’ll have at least twice as much historical fun watching him as Mussolini in this 7-part TV miniseries from 1985. Well, in theory, that’s how it should work, I guess. Actually, the best way to watch this is over the course of a few days where you can plop down in front of the tube and make like it’s 1985 (except you’re not going to dress that badly, I hope).  As with Patton’s story, expect a lot of Hollywood rewriting/rejiggering of history to the point where if you actually studied up on the late dictator, your head would explode from the made-up stuff here.

While it’s not as memorable as Patton was, the almost all-star cast makes this somewhat tolerable as they pretend play their plum roles. Still, historical warts and all, it’s entertaining enough and timely on a few fronts if you’re of the mind that old dictators never die. They just return split into many forms as a few different fools who don’t seem to recall history will steamroll them over after a certain period of time. Not to get all political on you, but you know what’s going on (well, I sure hope you do).

 

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A Fish Called Wanda – Well, wow. Arrow Video went and stocked this Blu-Ray so full of features that it’s worth buying for them alone. Fire up the trivia version and get regaled with onscreen text facts as the film spools out. Check out all the commentaries and interviews and learn way too much about this film and why it too so long to get made (and still became a comedy classic).

If you’ve never seen this before, this is the definitive version you’ll want to grab and yes, like any good comedy, this is best enjoyed with like-minded friends who appreciate totally crazy capers with a cast fully committed to cracking your up in pretty much every scene. I hadn’t seen this in about 15 years, but it got me laughing out loud at all the proper moments. Great comedy never ages or at least can punch itself up through one’s preconceived notions of what’s funny and how some things are universal no matter how much time has passed.

Hokay, let me stop here and get back to you with another installment. Maybe I’ll double up and do ten films in one post, as I’ve been blowing through my backlog at a speedy pace. Back in a bit.

-GW

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Random Films of the Week: Some Clock Cleaning Before Things Go Cuckoo

  1. Glad u liked that Cannon tribute. Very enjoyable for those of us who grew up at the time they were flooding the market with product. Both good and Bad. As for Warren Oates, easily the screen’s best Dillinger. Always been a fan of that one and I too have that Arrow release. As for G.C. Scott, I’m not sure I recall that one so might have to look into getting a copy. Cheers’

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    • Yeah, that Mussolini movie is a bit of an odd bird with a surprising cast. I vaguely remember it from its TV appearance back in ’85, but I think I missed a chapter or two. Having the full version makes up for that even though the “history” seems a wee bit too cheesy
      .

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