The title mirrors Mexican film great María Félix’s autobiography, Todas mis guerras, so I thought the documentary would bear semblance to the book, which was really a doozy, packed with sex, scandal, international name-dropping, outlandish diva behavior, and insight into the mind of a star so egotistical she bordered on sociopathic.
Instead, you get a chronological review of her films (almost all of which are presented with dreadful sound quality), littered Read the rest of this entry »
A forerunner to both Murder, She Wrote and The Golden Girls, the 1971 TV-movie Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate stars Helen Hayes, Sylvia Sidney, Mildred Natwick, and Myrna Loy as ladies who not only lunch, but occupy their idle hours by pranking people, in the case of this film, by inventing a fictitious woman to enter into a computer dating service in order to find some voyeuristic fun in exposing and manipulating strange men’s emotions and desire.
Their geriatric, proto-catfishing makes me feel hopeful that my own twilight years may be filled with crafting mayhem and engaging in semi-malicious larks alongside likeminded seniors. I have always cultivated friendships with such promise; only now do I understand the end game.
True to ladies in their seventies during the decade of the seventies, the group never slacks off in fashion. In fact, there are never slacks at all. All four make a point of putting themselves together; it’s Sylvia Sidney, however, who repeatedly cuts the most stunning figure, here in this smart emerald green dress, accentuated by the brooch, black belt, and matching black hat. She always wears a hat.
Their dating scam draws the initial interest and eventual ire of a psychopath, whose internal monologues we are treated to at astounding length via urgent voiceover whispers as the actor fumbles about his apartment, marches angrily down city streets, broods inside phone booths, and takes languorous bubble baths. Read the rest of this entry »
A 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 »
This 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 »
Sometimes 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 »
“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 »
Noir 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 »
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 »