Friday, June 23, 2017

Lost in Translation: Laura (1944)

While most famous for his Horror Films, Vincent Price got his start in more straight Films.  Arguably his most famous one is Laura...
I appreciate the unique visual they're going for.  The whole Film is investigating this mysterious Laura, so he's literally pointing a light on her.

It is somehow really-obvious and subtle.

I didn't do *too much* to this one, other than brighten some colors and play with the focus.
Why fix what is not broken?

Twin Piqued: ...Brings Back Some Memories

I'm a bit behind on this one, but I'll try to make up for lost time...
Important Stuff
- A half-there Cooper wins a bunch of money and is then taken home (after meeting Magic Eye Poster Guy).  He lives with...Naomi Watts?
-  The Sheriff (who's Harry's Brother, apparently) arrives as they reopen the case file.
- Lynch's FBI Chief goes to see Cooper/Bob, but only after meeting his boss Denise.  They also clear the air on whether or not she is Transgender.  Good.
- In some random Exposition, we see that Bobby Briggs is now a Cop and learn that his Dad (the Major) died in a fire the day after Season 2 ended (also the same day that Cooper left).  Okay...
- While confused Cooper is getting ready for work, Cooper/Bob is in Prison.  How are there 2 still?
Theme(s)
Taking a cue from Episode 3, this one is clearly Sense of Identity.
- One Cooper is dragged through a fake life, while the other tries to escape his own.
- They go randomly in-depth about Denise, which is actually quite nice.
- We also get a little bit with the random bit I'll highlight below...
Weirdest Moment(s)
With no Red Room stuff to speak of (save for a tease), this comes down to three options...
- The Receptionist being so confused by Cell Phones that she thinks Truman teleported!
- Lynch being confused as to why he doesn't see Mt. Rushmore, only for Ferrer to bring out a picture that he had printed in advance for this exact purpose.
- Random Monologues from Michael Cera as Andy & Lucy's world-weary son.

Do you have to guess which one I pick?!? 
To be honest, this has been the easiest one to sit through so far.  I still really like Twin Peaks, but the critiques of Season 2 seem especially petty now.  The complaint is that without the Laura Palmer case, the Show lacked direction and was just weird randomness.  Well, what is this exactly?  We've gotten 2 Scenes of the Doctor with shovels, but no explanation.  A big chunk of Episodes 1 & 2 was about a murder in NYC (with the glass box) and a different one involving 'Shaggy.'  Other than a quick Plot Point involving fingerprints being labeled as Top Secret, have they even touched on this since?  We still don't really know what that whole Glass Box thing was all about either.  With that said, the Show is still ambling along and entertaining me.  This one seemed *a bit* more focused and didn't focus so much on the Red Room stuff.  It is great in small doses, but too complicated when it is the focus.  This Episode gives you good moments, random Cameos, answered some questions and raised many more.  I still wonder what is up with Truman's Actor (who is not listed as appearing this Season on IMDB), but at least we get the real Star of Dragon Wars: D-War...
Next time, will we resolve the 2 Coopers story?  Will things make sense?  See you then...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Triple B Flix: Do or Die (1991)

Continuity is important...until it isn't.  Today's Film is Do or Die, the Andy Sidaris Film for 1991.  It is another in the series of Films about the Agents of LETHAL.  Mind you, those Agents kind of come and go throughout the Films- plus some just become different people.  This Film Series is all about Continuity, even though they've killed the same people at least 4 different times by now.  Those dead Japanese Envoys from Savage Beach- they're now Ninjas.  That lady Patticakes (who was a Cowboy Dancer/Spy) is gone...but someone exactly the same is now there.  Remember when the titular bad guy from Picasso Trigger was suddenly a good Agent?  So noting all of that, here's the biggest one- Erik Estrada is now playing a good guy.  Those Agents he was trying to kill in Guns are now his teammates and nobody seems to notice that he's the twin of a VILLAIN.  Do I take these too seriously?  The Plot of this is the prototype version of 12 Rounds, only even lazier and sillier.  Just like last time, some crime boss wants to kill them & plans to send 6 teams of assassins to try and kill them.  He'll be sporting though- they will go one-at-a-time.  The flimsy Plot is just there to tie the Action Scenes together- joy.  To find out how this silliness turns out, read on...
While a luau is going on, Pat Morita shows up.  Did he stop by on his trip back from Japan?
He wants to kill our two Leads for messing with his criminal empire (in what Film?), puts a tracker on Donna and explains the basic rules.
He's going to send 6 Teams to kill them within 24 hours.  While they call LETHAL for help, he enjoys these graphics that he set up for his 'game.'
After getting help from the Agents- which now includes Estrada!- and killing a few of the villains, they find time to have sex at inopportune times.

Seriously, this Film goes full 'Skinemax' as each lady Agent pairs off with an Agent to randomly bump uglies.  Wow.
The Assassins try all sorts of different ways to kill them.  Some use Helicopters, while others use guns.  These guys try to poison them with catfish.  More on that later.

Oh and these are the same Characters that were obsessed with using Technology to kill people from Guns.  Yea.
Here's something to ruin your day.  Morita gets a massage from his lady Assistant and they imply that she's about to give him a happy ending.  Have fun with that visual.
To cleanse your palette, here's something completely ridiculous...

To kill one of the Assassins, Estrada corners him in the Woods.  Instead of shooting him, he throws a series of baseballs at him (3, to be exact).  The 4th one is actually an explosive, which the man obliges by swinging his shotgun like a bat.

Think about the logistics of that, won't you?
It all comes down to Kane's final duo- the previously dead Japanese guys mentioned before.  After a bit of awkward kung-fu/karate (can you tell the difference in this case?), they just blow them up with a toy helicopter's missiles.  No, really.

To end this on a real anti-climax...
They don't go after Kane.  Instead, they just reveal that the lady with him is on their side now.  The (for real) End.
More of the same, for the most part.  Do or Die doesn't really do much that's different.  More explosions, more big boobs and more shooting.  That is the basic formula of all of these Films, to be fair.  In this case, they make a pretty basic Plot to just do everything they want to.  On the plus side, he's moved past almost always being in Hawaii.  He seemed to almost feel obligated to start there by this point.  What I would say as a general critique is that the Stories tend to work better when the Characters are pro-active.  In this case, they get challenged and spend the whole Movie just running from bad guys.  On top of that, they are too dumb to even think about checking the watch with the obvious tracking device.  I haven't worn a watch in years, but wouldn't you notice a big piece of plastic stuck to the bottom of it while you were wearing it for going on 2 days straight?  That's too much logic for a Sidaris Film.  All in all, the Film has some genuinely-goofy moments, but also devolves into Cinemax Softcore titillation a bit too much.  It appears that that the Restaurant has changed Owners again...
Next time, I try to work through the back-log of Films lying around.  It has to be Japanese, right?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hulu Hoopz: The Handmaid's Tale- Episode 4

Another week and another look at a dark, Jerry Falwell future...
After delivering some news that her Masters didn't like, things aren't going well for Offred/June.
We see a nice Flashback to June with her Husband and Child.  Aw.
A mysterious Doctor checks on her before 'The Ceremony' and is seemingly up to something...
A trip outside of her normal route gives Offred/June a look at the darker World.  We also learn about how Canada is apparently not too bad.

Since a bunch of key Plot happens, I'll leave it there.  No SPOILERS.
A deep, dark Episode...that also gives them a little hope.  I can't go too much into this because I want you to watch this Show.  Without giving stuff away, we see more of the world, get a glimpse into more of the twisted logic behind this whole 'Handmaid' thing and learn about a dark secret of the house.  On top of that, Latin jokes!  It is nice to see a little bit of a turn on things, even as they get worse at times.  Considering how the last Episode ended, this is a Hallmark Film by comparison!  Other than the bleak tone of the Premise, it all continues to work for me.  As the Memes like to say, 'New Episode of The Handmaid's Tale Has Me Feeling Like'...
Next time, the Plot thickens.  Is escape ever going to be an option?  See you then...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Immediate Response: Wonder Woman (2017)

Alright, I finally saw it.  I didn't avoid the Film- I just didn't get the chance.  Since my Rifftrax fix was cancelled, I'll make the most of it.

So here's my take...
The Good
- The Story is great, constantly pushed forward by Diana's constant desire to help people.
- The Acting is good from all involved, especially with the chemistry between Gadot and Pine.
- The Action is good, using the slow-mo and rapid-cut Editing in just about the right amount.
- The Film also has some good humor in it, helping ease you through this whole adventure.

Now I have to nitpick...

The Bad
- DC can't help but be downbeat at one point (no SPOILERS).  We can't have nice things.
- The opening Framing Device was pretty pointless and wreaks of Dustin Lance Black.
- I still don't know if Wonder Woman fought in WWII.  Can't I see her punch Hitler already?
- Not an issue with this Film, but...why couldn't we get this before BvS?  Come on, DC!

All in all, the Film is really good.  They make up for Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman.

Well, it's a start anyways.  Don't prove me wrong.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Poor Bastards of Cinema: Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1969)

At long last, another Poor Bastard of the feline variety.

In A-Hunting, we meet a nice lady, her weird boyfriend and their cat.
She eventually breaks up with him and has an abortion, since she doesn't want to have his kid.  He takes this...poorly.
Some time later, she's living with and married to a would-be Politician.  There's that cat again.
After much scheming and stalking, he makes his move.  He breaks in, steals the baby and...
On the plus side, the cat's sacrifice was not in vain.  He now uses its carrier to stash the baby!
The lesson: don't trust people who don't like cats.  He didn't like the cat before and he is a murdering psycho.

To be fair, this kill is set up throughout and not 100% random.  That said, it follows a set-up that implies that he'll kill the Maid.

He doesn't.  He just kills the cat.

Next time, another little person bites the dust.  Their crime: hunger.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Holiday Flix: Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1969)

It probably puts all of your Dads into perspective!  Today's Film is Daddy's Gone A-Hunting, a 1969 Thriller that I just kind of found.  I'm sure I'm by no means the first person to 'discover' it, but show of hands for those of you who remember it.  I thought so.  Hell, the Auto-Fill on IMDB requires me to put in half the Title and I *still* have to search for it a bit.  The Film comes to us from Mark Robson, a name that is not synonymous to me with much, but his Resume is pretty padded.  Most notably, he directed both Valley of the Dolls and Earthquake.  I also like that he made a Film called Phffft, even if I haven't seen it.  In addition, our Villain here is apparently still working, having 3 Credits on Fargo this year!  The Plot is all sorts of messed up, but interesting.  This woman falls for this man and gets pregnant.  He turns out to be crazy, so she dumps him and aborts their unborn child.  This makes him go crazy enough to stalk her after she marries a new man and gets pregnant with his kid.  Given her fertility rate, it is a good thing that she's not on The Handmaid's Tale!  I mostly picked this for the Title, but it does kind of work for the Holiday.  To see how crazy love (and mental illness) can make you, read on...
This is a Tale as old as Time.  Man meets Woman.
Man proves to be an insane person and Woman leaves Man.
Women has Abortion before leaving Man.  Woman meets new Man- gets pregnant again.

How cliché, right?
The creepy guy does two bad things early on.  One- he pretends to be someone else to get close to her and the soon-to-be-born baby.
Two- he stalks her.

Worse yet, he almost makes this a Christmas Film!!!
He keeps her from spilling the beans by threatening to out the Doctor who did the Abortion (as this is 4 years before Roe v. Wade) and ruin her new Husband's Senate Campaign.

Well, he takes care of the first part pretty quickly.
He eventually makes his big play: breaking in and stealing the baby!  He proves this by leaving the pictures he took of the baby in the house to taunt them.

He's crazy and evil, but that is good spacing!
This leads to the long Third Act where he taunts the Police and holds the baby.  Somehow, they never put his face up for people to spot, making this way too hard!
It all ends with a big confrontation on the roof.  Naturally, he falls to his death in front of a Theater playing Medea.  The End.
Considering how obscure this is, it is actually pretty darn good.  The Plot is simple enough, but they play with it nicely.  Our Stalker is subtle enough not to get caught and for them to just blame it on 'hysteria.'  Interestingly enough, the whole Third Act would not work just a few years later, as Roe V. Wade would make Abortion legal.  His whole plan involved keeping her from reporting a crime!  Aside from that accidental hilarity, the Film is quite tense and deadly serious.  It is actually Scored by John Williams!  I realize that he had to have worked pre-Spielberg, but it is still neat to see.  The Acting is good, though our Lead goes a bit hammy at times with her fright.  You can maybe excuse that as hormones (for the Character, you jerks!).  All in all, the Film is a bit long (nearly 2 hours) and a bit silly at times.  Credit for giving a Black Extra a line though (and making him an Authority Figure) in 1969.  Sadly, no matter how hard they tried, this Song never caught on...
Next up, some light-hearted Andy Sidaris nonsense.  Can they survive evil Pat Morita?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lost in Translation?: House of Wax (1953)

I love Vincent Price.  I love House of Wax.

Naturally, I love this interesting Italian Poster that in now way prepares you for the Film too...
So Price is either coming in too late to help the folks of Gone with the Wind OR this is the fire from the opening.

Either way, the ghost is a strange touch.

Well, it is either that or he's actually possessed by Sam Beckett and this is just Al after finally becoming the woman he's always wanted to be.  It's the Future/Past- no judgement.

As usual, I present you with the original Version I found...
More fun with blurring and coloring for me!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Starz Struck: American Gods- Episode 4

As another week comes around, let's see if they figured out what this Show is about yet...
Instead of a neat-but-pointless Opening Bit, we get to see how Shadow and his wife met.
Their semi-charmed kind of life is interrupted when she decides that they should rob the Casino.  We know that he ends up in Prison, so this is no SPOILER.
This time, we see her life outside of Prison without him and how things got to where they were when the Show began proper.
Sticking with her, she gets to experience that bit from the beginning of last Episode.  No SPOILER as to how that goes though.
We also see how that strange bit from the end of the 1st Episode went down from the outside.
All of this builds up to...how the last Episode ended.  Joy.
How come we got the most Plot from a Flashback Episode?!?  Yet again, this looks pretty, is made well and generally feels interesting.  Yet again, not much of anything happens.  Am I getting repetitive?  Am I getting repetitive?  All jokes aside, I want this Show to be great and will stick with it for a little longer at least.  When it gets to a real Plot, it has to be amazing, right?  Speaking of amazing, how did Dane Cook end up on this Show?!?
Next time, there has to be a clear goal in sight.  How long can they keep this up otherwise?  See you then...