Do Not Disturb posterA lesser entry in the swath of Doris Day sex comedies from the sixties, Do Not Disturb never escapes the disjointed, episodic confines of the script by Richard L. Breen and Milt Rosen. The film tries out several angles for Day – the Read the rest of this entry »

mr allison lobby cardThis 1957 WWII film sounds like sexploitation in synopsis:

A rugged marine and a prim nun find themselves stranded on an island and confront sexual temptation amidst mortal danger and unrelenting tropical heat.

Yet as realized by director/co-writer John Huston, however, the sexual tension never ventures into tawdriness, though the two leads, Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr, Read the rest of this entry »

malenka posterSometimes I watch a film that is so terribly written and sloppily realized that my mind drifts from what I am actually witnessing on the screen to what I imagine the creators – the writer, the director, the set designers, the costumers, the performers – discussed and observed while they prepared for and wheeled into reality their cinematic travesty.

What inkling of the disaster might be revealed in the words and minds of the very people who brought it forth?

I was besotted by such musings during Fangs of the Living Dead, otherwise known as Malenka, a supremely schlocky European horror film from the twilight of the sixties directed by Spanish director Amando de Ossorio and starring Swedish sex siren Anita Ekberg. It’s a wreck from beginning to end, especially the end, though I confess abandoning it never truly Read the rest of this entry »

homer-thumb

I googled “pop culture” and this came up. Actually this came up because I googled “entertainment”.

Entertainment

I quite like both and I think I’ll be going with the “I’m feeling lucky” approach to images for the rest of the year because searching and formatting is such a huge time suck.

Last year – well it was last year. There was a huge dip in my consumption for a lot of different reasons we don’t need to get into here. In the spirit of the starting anew and clearing out the old I’m going to just list the movies and books of 2015. No reviews – otherwise this wouldn’t be happening at all. What I am going to do for 2016 is add the TV shows I’m watching/streaming because I am definitely watching a lot.

MOVIES
January

1 – Wedding Crashers
2 – The Odd Couple

March
3 – Singin’ in the Rain

April
4 – It Follows
5 – Woman in Gold

May
6 – Edge of Tomorrow
7 – Finding Vivian Maier
8 – Atari – Game Over
9 – Mad Max: Fury Road

June
10 – Best in Show
11 – Non-Stop
12 – Spy
13 – X-Files – Fight the Future

July
14 – John Wick
15 – Minions
16 – Inside Out
17 – Inside Llewyn Davis
18 – Stanley Kubrick – A Life in Pictures
19 – The Winning Season

August
20 – The Babadook
21 – Inside Man
22 – Drag Me to Hell
23 – The Giver
24 – Trainwreck
25 – Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work
26 – Man from U.N.C.L.E.

September
27 – Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation
28 – The Source Family
29 – Muscle Shoals

October
30 – Who Killed the Electric Car?
31 – Black Mass

November
32 – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
33 – American Sniper
34 – The Martian

December
35 – Spectre

BOOKS

May – really, I didn’t read anything until MAY, the dates are when I finished
1 – Simon vs the Homo Sapiens/Becky Albertalli
2 – Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnance
3 – What to Expect When You’re Expecting
4 – The Messenger/Lois Lowry
5 – Wonder/RJ Palacio
6 – Son/Lois Lowry
7 – Diaper Free/Ingrid Bauer
8 – Stories I Only Tell My Friends/Rob Lowe
9 – A Wrinkle in Time/Madeleine L’Engle
10 – Love Life/Rob Lowe
11 – Ready for a Brand New Beat/Mark Kurlansky
12 – A Wind int eh Door/Madeleine L’Engle
13 – Modern Romance/Aziz Ansari

Out of this whole list the only entry I didn’t remember is Non-Stop. Liam Neeson is an air marshall trapped on a plane with a forgettable story line. There you have it. One big thing I check off my to do list. Happy New Year!

advise consent posterExtremely talky political melodrama at its most middling. I rather enjoyed some of the machinations exposed in this story (based on a Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Allan Drury, who was inspired by the suicide of Lester Hunt during the McCarthy era) of the Senate approval of a Secretary of State nominee during the Cold War, but Machiavellian power-dealing only took the movie so far before it slid into a gay blackmail story rather typical for the era, at least in terms of gay stories that explicitly appeared in mainstream film in the early sixties.

This one ends, quite predictably, in a suicide, a rather grisly one at that, signaling a finish to a movie that had already run its course. The gay twist did Read the rest of this entry »

along came polly poster“I thought Polly was the ferret!” cried out my friend in disappointment as this extremely slight romantic comedy unfolded. Ben Stiller is a funny physical comedian, but at this point in his career, he needed to vary his routine – the string of highly mannered neurotics had grown tired. Jennifer Aniston is characteristically bland in just a supporting role. In a classic romantic comedy, her character would have matched or balanced Stiller. Writer/director John Hamburg makes a halfhearted attempt at that here, but doesn’t give her the screen time or development needed; as a result, her flightiness, a weak counter to Stiller’s neuroticism, is Read the rest of this entry »

Ugh. This cutesy account of the fantastic, fame-mad Jacqueline Susann is a squandered opportunity for mixing tragedy, blind ambition, sex, and celebrity into an overheated yet still moving masterpiece about a polarizing figure from American literary pop culture.

How do I know the potential of this story? Because Michele Lee (the grounded and long-suffering Karen from Knots Landing) brought it to fruition with her 1998 TV-movie version about Susann, which delved far deeper into Read the rest of this entry »

strange love of martha ivers posterNoir prescient of Dynasty – complete with a repeatedly hazardous grand staircase.

Lewis Milestone’s 1946 film boasts a slightly puffy class-based soap opera middle bookended by some terrific noir set pieces at the outset and the finale.

The script by Robert Rossen suggests an innate corruption in inherited wealth and capitalistic ambition by contrasting its adolescent characters to their adult counterparts, primarily the titular Martha Ivers, who first appears as a willful runaway (a perfectly cast Janis Wilson, who matches Barbara Stanwyck in not only in appearance, but also captures her unyielding countenance and anxious interior). Stanwyck closes out the same character as a duplicitous, treacherous industrial magnate and adulteress with just a sad whisper (literally, in her dying breath) of the fresh, headstrong teenager we’d met in the opening. She has rotted, not quite to the core, and her corruption, which bleeds into Read the rest of this entry »

MadMaxFuryRoadTop

I feel oddly isolated in my lukewarm experience of Mad Max: Fury Road. I took it in second-run this week in a packed house with a quite enthusiastic audience, including my boyfriend, who, after the show, unprompted but conscious of both my predilections and peeves, asked with a resigned sigh, “Did you hate it?”

“No,” I answered, “but I didn’t like it.”

I have a sense that I was the only one streaming out of that theater feeling decidedly indifferent to Mad Max: Fury Road.

I’ll concede the film magnificently rolls out relentless action, badass characters, badder-ass vehicles, and breathtaking stunts throughout its two-hour car chase, yet through all the frenetic thrill, I, in my advancing middle age and tendency toward rumination, was left wondering, Is that all there is? Is that all there is to a post-apocalyptic blockbuster?” 

Part of my disillusionment stems from the glut of grim apocalypses set upon cinema since the millennia began. What sort of desperation at world’s end have I yet to see? Mad Max director George Miller must sense the fatigue Read the rest of this entry »

Bernadette Poster

I’m torn between two perspectives on this Henry King film. On the one hand, it’s visually beautiful – gorgeously lit by Arthur C. Miller from beginning to end – with an unhurried, ponderous pace matching the tone to its subject. The performances, especially Jennifer Jones’, are also calibrated to the slow, pensive mood. This all adds up to a wonderfully cohesive film that presents its legend with a measured reverence. On the other hand, it’s a heavy-handed indictment of the skeptic, personified in the character of Vincent Price, who notes that every time religious fanaticism takes hold, humanity takes a step backward. Read the rest of this entry »