Loving The Alien: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

 

The best film directors are master manipulators who can magically transform an entire theater audience into a group of happy to sappy sapient lemmings or wide-eyed marionettes easily controlled from start to end credits. Their best films have the masses cheering the heroes, hissing at the bad ones, empathizing with the downtrodden and generally feeling whatever emotion a scene calls for. Yes, there are exceptions to this non-rule (too-likeable villains, swapping out all attempts at sympathy for more explosions and eyeball rolling plot twists you can see coming 20 minutes before they occur). But when you get right down to it, you know your cinematic needs are being taken care of when certain directors are at the helm.

Or, as an old friend once said:

(thanks, svofski!) 

In other words, this is a Spielberg film, folks.
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Random Film of the Week: Corruption


 

As mad scientist flicks go, Corruption is something of a forgotten classic in its own crazy manner. You get the great Peter Cushing out of his usual period piece horrors playing a successful plastic surgeon in a more modern 60’s setting, some surprisingly shocking (by mid 60’s standards) content and a laser gone haywire in a finale that may elicit some chuckles from forward thinking Star Wars fans. If you’ve ever wanted to see Cushing go full-tilt, over the top into scenery chomping territory, this one won’t disappoint one bit. While there are some slow expository moments here, the overall film is an interesting slice of horror that while not wholly original, ends up being pretty memorable on a few fronts.

(Thanks, groovemaster!)
 

After the swingin’ credit sequence, we meet Cushing’s Sir John Rowan and his pretty younger fiancée Lynn (Sue Lloyd) at a pretty raucous party. While the good doctor struggles with the mingling, Lynn, who just so happens to be a model, is in the middle of an impromptu photo shoot when Rowan rushes up to stop the snapping away before his squeeze loses all her clothes. Before you can say “Watch out for that hot studio lamp!”, Rowan accidentally knocks said lamp over and it lands on poor Lynn, burning half her face. Ouch! Fortunately, she’s engaged to a very capable plastic surgeon, right? Unfortunately, conventional surgery won’t work this time, so Rowan decides to use Lynn as a guinea pig to try out a little something he’s been working on in secret.

If you’ve seen Georges Franju’s Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without A Face), you can probably guess things up to a point, For everyone who hasn’t, Répétez après moi, s’il vous plaît:

“What could POSSIBLY go wrong?”(dot dot dot) Continue reading

Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer: Re-suit Reboot Looks To Grab Loot

 


 

So, how are you doing, dear readers? Good? Good. Me? Meh, I’m doing okay. Anyway, I missed the first trailer to Spider-Man: Homecoming a few months back, so it’s above and the newer trailer that dropped yesterday is below. The big legal issues keeping Spidey out of Marvel’s bigger cinematic universe seem to be ironed out (at least for the foreseeable future), so say hello a second time to Tom Holland, whose portrayal of the character in Captain America: Civil War helped give that film some much-needed levity. Speaking of levity, how’s the kind of in-joke of Michael Keaton going from playing Birdman to another bird-man get you? I don’t think Oscar will come calling again for a superhero flick (despite what Logan has done in terms of critical response and yeah, yeah, Suicide Squad winning its hair/makeup award), but it’s also just fine by me that this reboot isn’t looking as cheesy as the last few attempts at making him a big deal were.


 

That said, my rules of engagement still apply: Unless I get invited to a premiere here in NYC, I’m holding out for the Blu-Ray version for those bonus features and any extended footage chopped out of the theatrical cut. I don’t think Marvel is quite as nefarious as DC in terms of this stuff, but I’m admittedly a few films behind in both cinematic universes.

-GW

Justice League Trailer: See? Gee! Aye.


 


 

Hmmm. On one hand, the Justice League trailer does what it needs to do and does it well enough that DC fans will appreciate everything it has to offer, so that’s good. On the other hand, the CG-packed visuals (is there a single shot that’s not enhanced in some way?) complete with Zack Snyder’s trademark dark, gritty visuals make it look like another loud post-summer blockbuster non-fans might want to avoid in favor of some quiet time with a good book. As usual, I’m ambivalent here. I’ll see this when I have the time as I’m not so wholly invested in these soopa-hee-ro flicks to trample over some old ladies on the way to the nearest megaplex. Unless, of course I get an invite to some big deal star-studded premiere here in NYC, whereupon I’ll turn into Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo from Kiss of Death (sorry in advance, old ladies! But, bonus points if you have a few baskets of puppies and freshly baked cookies in your laps):

(Thanks, Doug Jay!)
 

Or perhaps not. Hey, that Widmark sure would have made a fantastic Joker had anyone back then wanted to make a real Batman film and not some budget-minded serial, huh? Amirite? Anyway, an invite to a screening isn’t a mandate and I don’t feel like buying or renting a tuxedo penguin outfit for the occasion. I do have a suit here, but it’s probably not going to fit my winter fat self even a few months down the road as the film opens November 17 and I’ll be back to stuffing myself silly again. Eh, whatever. Suicide Squad won a friggin’ Oscar, so who knows what will happen with this film.

-GW

(NOTE: no old ladies were harmed in the making of this post, the baskets of puppies were all adopted to good homes and yes, I’m eating the freshly-baked cookies as I type this, yum!)

Alien: Covenant Does The #TBT Thing A Day Early


 

Well, well. Referencing that infamous dinner scene from the original ALIEN, this “Last Supper” prologue also manages to give an idea of how close to the vest Alien Covenant is going to be playing a few of its cards. Granted, I wasn’t expecting anything revolutionary with the upcoming film, so this clip does indeed hit the right notes. I liked what I saw, although that larger crew means a lot more victims which will hopefully not translate to the film feeling repetitive. Eh, I’m not really worried much, though.

aliencovenant-header 

Oh, by the way, when you go to that site link above and register, make sure you mess with the MU/TH/UR 6000 computer interface for a bit of fun. Ask it some questions that are ALIEN-related, if you need a hint.

-GW

Random Films: Stuff To Watch Happen When You’re Not Watching Stuff Happen (Part 1)

(Thanks, Lord Juri’s Channel!)
 

So, yeah. We’re in uncharted yet somehow all too predictable waters at the moment. I’m seeing those history and philosopy books I read or scanned and documentaries I watched as a kid up coming to life in rapid succession and nope, that’s not a good seaworthy feeling in the guts that’s happening. Diversions, diversions are required in this case, but I prefer focused ones that fit the climate over ones that beg me to continually forget it. Anyway, a few recommends to see for you if you’re so inclined, have an open mind and don’t want to be left behind.

No commentary needed on these, but trailers are added to get your eyes and brain to get your fingers clicking on getting these added to that ‘must-see’ queue. Four for today should be enough – there are a load more I’ll get to over time. Distractions about disruption over participation in destruction, I say.

theboywithgreenhair 

(Thanks, Screenbound Pictures!)
 

a face in the crowd poster 

(Thanks, Warner Bros!)
 

z 

(thanks, Poetic Realism!)
 

things_to_come_xlg 

(Thanks, Movie Trailer Graveyard!)
 

Back in a bit…

– GW

Worst Assassins Ever (The Non-Blogathon!) #1: The French Connection

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A good cop? Oh, the irony of that caption. Or, a picture is worth a thousand words (or less)…

IF yours truly was ever going to host a blogathon, it would either be something like the ‘That’s NOT My City!’ or ‘Worst Assassins EVER!’ blogathon because both are topics that make me chuckle in films more than they’re supposed to. As a native New Yorker who’s heard from a bunch of friends over the decades about how certain films shot here (or places pretending to be here) range from inspiring (great!) to “It’s so unsafe there! Do you actually go out at night?” (lousy!), I can think of far too many made in (or outside) in NYC films to scribble about. As for terrible assassins in films, with assistance I could probably write a book on how the best of the best go from first in their class to dirt-napping klutzes thanks to inconvenient plot monkey wrenches needing them to forget how good they are in favor of making a series of increasingly terrible decisions that put them into the hall of shamefully comedic demises.

However, between being a bit more scattered than usual (“I want the hangings public” is my mantra of late) and not motivated enough to create all those GIFs, promo posters and banner art to pass out to potential contributors, I’ve decided to flip a coin for the name and non-host a stealth blogathon anyone can contribute to. Or not. Actually, this particular film popped into my head first because it fits both categories perfectly AND happens to be a great essential flick that’s still well worth a look. For those about to complain… don’t. I love this film to death, but repeated viewings over a few decades show it’s got a hidden comic gold vein running through it in the form of one the the most inept professional killers you’ll ever see. Continue reading

Random Film Of The Week: Predator 2

predator_2_ver1As sequels go, Predator 2 shouldn’t even work as well as it does. But here it is in all its Hollywood circa 1990 R-rated violent glory, still making me laugh both with and at it. Granted, you need a particular sense of humor to appreciate the film as a whole, as trying to pick it apart into chunks of good and bad ends up wrecking the work put into making it completely bonkers yet a total blast to sit down with for a spell.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t available for this sequel thanks to disagreements over his fee (something a little film called Terminator 2: Judgment Day would take care of forever), the film dropped his Dutch character and moves the setting ten years ahead to a sweaty 1997 Los Angeles where a heat wave and gang warfare lure in a new Predator for some urban hunting action. Inspired casting abounds here, with Danny Glover leading the way as Lieutenant Michael Harrigan, a not quite by the book cop who, like others in these sorts of action flicks, has unconventionally heroic means of getting the job done. Reuben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso and Bill Paxton also play cops working with Harrigan as Jamaican and Colombian drug gangs blast each other as well as anyone that happens to get between them.

(Thanks, Forever Horror!) 

When the bulk of the Colombian gang is wiped out in what looks like a ritualistic sacrifice, Harrigan and his team immediately suspect the Jamaicans. But the loss of one of his team reveals there’s a third party at work here and Harrigan sets out to get to the bottom of things and possibly get some revenge in the process. Little does he realize that the bottom of things is very literally under the steaming streets in the form of a trophy packed alien ship. Continue reading

ALIEN: Covenant Trailer: Eggs Over Uneasy

Officially, it’s this:

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Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.

In Theaters – May 19, 2017

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby

Tonally, for me it’s this: I’m getting Prometheus repeat visual vibes from the gorgeous CG landscapes with that magnificently muted but sharp high-def color palette, a crew of clueless soon to be victims stuck on a planet poking around at stuff better left to robots to check out and some of the interesting casting choices made. Hopefully the film won’t suffer from the same stupidity of poorly written characters clogging up the story with 50’s era “B” flick shenanigans that took me completely out of Scott’s last attempt. Which means I’m not too sold on Danny McBride (although I love him in his comedic work dearly) the same way I wasn’t sold on Paul Reiser in Jim Cameron’s ALIENS until I saw the film in a theater when it first opened. We shall see.

aliencovenant-header

Other than this post, I’m not going to follow the film at all online other than to run any newer trailers Fox drops with as little commentary as possible. Weird, yes. But I like not having an entire film ruined for me by constant hunting for every bit of info which only leads to too much speculation and eventually disappointment when and if something major is or seems missing. Besides, aren’t new experiences SUPPOSED to be fun and/or surprising? This blasted modern culture of seeking out secrets and spilling them is nothing but a destroyer of otherwise interesting entertainment, I say.

Now go have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I got one of my presents early. Thanks, Ridley!

-GW

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Blu-Ray Review: The Bloodstained Butterfly

the-bloodstained-butterfly-av063Duccio Tessari’s 1971 thriller The Bloodstained Butterfly is a great entry point to the genre for those squeamish viewers curious about gialli but not willing to commit to the more violent entries known to more ardent fans. The film is part murder mystery, part courtroom drama and part revenge flick, all stylishly shot and scored to excellent effect.

It’s also a bit of a slow fuse to its conclusion, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The film’s structure where a murder is committed and witnessed, a suspect is caught, tried and jailed, but more murders take place is yes, pure TV drama stuff you’ll see on way too many episodes of whatever Law & Order series you’ve been hooked on for who knows how long. But, Tessari’s confident style comes through in every shot, making for a highly watchable viewing experience.

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