Movie Gold = Blue Gold

DATELINE: Blue Denim without Brandon De Wilde

 blue gold

Though we expected this documentary to be frivolous, it turned out to be entertaining and smart.

Blue Gold: American Jeans tells the story of how the fashion-plate pants of the Old West have become a big business and an art form. Yes, you will regret having tossed out those moth-eaten old pair of blue jeans. They are worth thousands of dollars today.

Oh, the film traces the historical process of how jeans are made with indigo dye and rivets by Levi Strauss, or Lee, or Wrangler. You will surely learn how the business of fashionable jeans in America has gone to the Far East.

This little film compiles everything you want to know about blue jeans—from Calvins to Brooke Shields with nothing next to her. Every morsel of trivia about blue jeans is here. And, you can’t be much closer to a subject than how it fits and shapes your scrotum and ass.

Authentic blue jeans are indeed valuable, especially in Japan nowadays. Collectors travel the Midwest and Nevada to find old trunks with old trunks. You will not find many documentaries that will combine Bob Dylan, Bruce Lee, with Iggy Pop and James Dean.

It struck us that those looking for authentic jeans, worn by real workers years ago, are actually big phonies. They never worked for their jeans, but they paid thousands of dollars for the privilege of looking like blue collar types in their pantaloons.

With a main host who looks a great deal like John Goodman on a lark, the film will not make your butt look fat.

Directed with holes in the right places by Christian D. Bruun, the film is sheer delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Twin Peaks (s3 Half-Way Point)

 DATELINE:  NO Spoilers Possibletwin peaks

There is no such thing as a spoiler in Twin Peaks. We are not even sure we are still in Twin Peaks after the face of Laura Palmer emerges from the mist in the opening credits.

We have now come to the half-way point of no-return for Season 3 on the bizarre David Lynch TV series, and we can explain everything that happened and you will have no idea what we are talking about.

The episode started with Kyle McLachlan’s Doppleganger Agent D.B. Cooper in a jail break with an accomplice who promptly shoots and kills him. Then, he is beset upon by demonic spirits that apparently bring him back to life.

At this point there is a flashback to a flashpoint in the plot. We find ourselves in Desert Sands, New Mexico, as the first atomic bomb is detonated. If you think of this as a hole in the plot, you may have fallen into the trap.

We are then thrust into a five-minute Stanley Kubrick-style hallucinogenic trip inside a radioactive cloud. When we emerged, we found ourselves in a 1950s black and white horror movie with zombies murdering people.

Oh, yes, somewhere in there we found ourselves in the waiting room of an imperious theater where Lurch the Butler of the Addams Family sends a golden plasma bubble with the face of Laura Palmer back to Earth.

Back on Earth, an alien lizard with wings hatches from an egg near the site of the nuclear explosion in 1956 and enters the mouth of sleeping adolescent girl. Now we feel the Illuminati are lurking somewhere in the storyline.

Is that clear? Are you spoiled yet? Have you any idea if David Lynch has lost his lunch?

Yes, we will watch again next week, not that it matters.

Hurricane Clint Eastwood Downgraded to Breezy

DATELINE: Better to Stay Lost

breezy

In his third directorial effort, back in 1973, Clint Eastwood took up the challenge of a romantic comedy.  It probably sounded easier than he expected because he had William Holden, even aging and falling apart, as his charming, cynical leading man.

This atrocity is called Breezy, rhymes with easy, named after the hippie free spirit who haunts William Holden. It might have been more hilarious if Breezy was a teenage boy. But Clint doesn’t eat sweets.

However, the moribund script features one fantasy hippie girl who believed in free love of the era. Perhaps it was realistic back in the early 1970s in L.A., but Kay Lenz presents one of the most annoying, anachronistic versions of a promiscuous teenager we have seen in decades.

We cannot figure out why Holden’s well-to-do businessman didn’t toss this annoying and cloying girl out on her keester when she first appears to panhandle and try to con him. Are all men victims of their sex drive?

That Holden falls in love with her seems to stretch credulity for a character who never has fallen in love with any woman.

On top of all this, we are then faced with the embarrassments of May-December romance being denigrated by every other character Holden knows in the movie script. Really, Clint?

We almost hoped Holden would turn into Dirty Sex Harry and shoot the whole lot of slut hustlers. Of course, it’s not that kind of film, alas.

If the saccharine hippie girl isn’t enough to rot the script, you have an overlay of Michel Legrand music. Apparently, Clint gave himself plenty of challenges to overcome. You may drown in movie sweetness, not typical Eastwood.

Clint fans knew better than the novice director—and ran away from this clinkeroo. This was not even a good character-driven story, though you can see how Eastwood wants to develop it. The film wastes William Holden– and Eastwood too.

Many critics in hindsight think this was Clint’s most “personal” film. We doubt it. He was still learning his craft by directing in an unusual setting and genre.

Destroying the film negative might be a better challenge to undertake. Clint likely chose to ignore the movie as time passed as an experiment in directing. This movie is a freak of his oeuvre.

A Good Mechanic is Hard to Find

DATELINE:  Off-duty Killers

 Mechanics off duty

Charles Bronson teamed with Jan-Michael Vincent in 1972 for their fascinating mob hitman movie called The Mechanic, which was changed to Killer of Killers when a bad remake of the original was made recently.

In contrast to the recently viewed The Assignment, this has more stops pulled out, but the gender-issues came across in full force. Bronson, in fact, demanded that a scene with his wife Jill Ireland be gratuitously added to the movie so the main character, Mr. Bishop, could be seen having sex with a woman. It was pointless. He only has eyes for the son of the mob boss.

When Bronson meets the beautiful blond Jan-Michael, all is lost.

Their courtship as partners in the assassination business tells all. When they go to a strip joint, they have eyes only for each other—and ignore the cavorting girls who are nude on stage. Vincent seems to have moved into a luxurious art-laced house with Bishop, “Nice to see what inside your mind looks like,” opines the seductive Jan-Michael.

However, their murderous relationship runs afoul of the mob that disapproves—of something that dares not speak its name. It is 1972, after all, when Boys in the Band was nascent.

Bronson’s need for a companion is his undoing when he starts to suspect his young friend has a hidden agenda. Mr. Bishop needs a companion, and his young protégé notes, “That’s your weakness.”

“See Naples and die,” becomes more than a throwaway slogan amid the explosions and gunfights as the film moves swiftly to a surprise ending.

Beautiful settings and beautiful sets make the sordid story fly by. If you want a lost gem, The Mechanic still shines 45 years later.

 

 

 

 

Original New York Terror Movie

DATELINE:  Classic Thriller

 

Matthau

Taking of Pelham One Two Three, from 1974, is a masterpiece

Directed by Joseph Sargent, it holds up after 40 years of action thrillers have passed into oblivion. Twenty-five years before 9-11, it showed New York City in full terrorist mode. Of course, back then, it was not called “terrorism,” but when a gang of dangerous criminals hijacks a subway train, the word fits.

Acutely written and underplayed by a bunch of New York actors, the leading transit policeman is Walter Matthau, a man give over to snippy one-liners and packaging disheveled frumpiness. He is at the top of the game here. And, his sidekick is Jerry Stiller, not Jack Lemmon.

Indeed, the passel of familiar faces from TV and movies of the era is a who’s who cast: James Broderick, Tony Roberts, Dick O’Neill, Kenneth McMillan, Dolph Sweet, Tom Pedi, and Doris Roberts. For the most part they throw out some zinger lines to break up the tension.

The bad guys are gems: Hector Elizondo and Martin Balsam, of course, effective as always, but Robert Shaw added another villain portrait to his growing gallery as the mercenary ringleader. His end rivals his work in Jaws the following year.

New York City is magnificent as itself, harsh, bustling, dirty, cynical, and unique.

To watch a well-put together suspense thriller, you may be surprised to learn it won next to nothing in awards, a few nominations, but nothing from Oscar land. They didn’t take terror films lightly back then, and this one dishes out some great entertainment along with the speeding subway trains and crashing police cars.

Neruda’s Politics Over Poetry

DATELINE:  Chile Politics

neruda

Pablo Larrain’s other important movie this past year, besides Jackie, is another off-beat biographical drama, this time centering on Chilean poet and political activist Pablo Neruda.

The film Neruda puts its focus on a year-long period in 1948 when the poet was targeted by the Chilean government for arrest and explains his attempts to flee the country while being chased by some kind of Victor Hugo-styled police detective. Bernal is utterly breath-taking in his 1940s wardrobe.

Told from the viewpoint of Gael Gabriel Bernal as the police pursuer, you have a man of no consequence taking his identity from chasing the biggest figure in his country’s history. As the cop finally begs the audience, “I am not a supporting character,” and we feel that Larrain is in total agreement.

The film hints that the pursuer was a creation of Neruda’s paranoia or of his self-important art. We tend to support the group that prefers to remember that Nobel Prize winner Neruda was a Stalinist communist, unrepentant and disdainful of much else.

In 1948 Chile perhaps it was chichi to be an unrelenting communist chased by a relentless secret police officer. Peanut-sized actor Bernal is strikingly brilliant in his dogged role. Luis Gnecco is equal in his performance as the frumpy, profligate poet Neruda.

Americans may wonder how this uninspired-looking man could motivate his nation as a martyr, or give voice to the downtrodden, that sent many who helped him to prison. It is all part of Larrain’s poetic vision of cat-and-mouse politics.

We must admit that the notion that an unimportant pawn of political corruption drawing his identity from hounding a greater man for his beliefs is a fascinating topic.

The film is fully realized, one of two powerful political dramas this year by the South American filmmaker Pablo Larrain, now taking part in Hollywood mainstream.

Neruda will be intriguing for those of a certain socialist political bent. The rest of us will conclude Neruda and the Nobel Prize are overrated, but the movie is not.

Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl: The Assignment

 DATELINE:  Singular Revenge Tale

michelle rodriguez  Ultimate Tomboy?

You won’t find many gender-bending mob hitman movies out there, but Walter Hill has directed and written the best one: The Assignment.

Literate, clever, and intelligent, as well as violent, this film manages to answer the question raised by the old Barbarians song.

This is a revenge tale with a twist of lemon. Frank Kitchen is one of those androgynous, bearded killers who looks like Ralph Macchio in most scenes and a bit like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront in a few others. Even as an attractive woman, Rodriguez still looks like Ralph Macchio.

The actor playing Frank is Michelle Rodriguez who in a clever bit of computer effects has a full-frontal nudity scene as a young man. She has the posturing and macho attitude to play the killer who meets the wrong doctor.

Also gender-bending is Sigourney Weaver, as a tough masculine female plastic surgeon who decides, beyond experimentation, to have revenge on the mob killer who murdered her brother. She drugs him and turns him into a woman. Yes, castration and breast implants do not make the girl quite.

Since Weaver’s doctor loves Edgar Allan Poe, she leaves the calling card “Nevermore” next to the gender-bent Frank, left with nasty instructions in a cheap hotel room.

Tony Shaloub is around as a psychiatrist investigator who has to hear the story from Weaver in a strait-jacket while in a mental hospital. She cannot convince anyone that she did the sex operation on Frank and he really exists now as a woman.

Weaver and Rodriguez have a few good scenes together, especially when she admires her plastic surgery by commenting that Rodriguez is attractive in a “shop girl/waitress” way. Tony Shaloub compliments Weaver for her “cheap theatrics” in her confession.

Good performances and a good script make this action revenge flick way above the pack of gender-bending tomboy movies.

John Wick Chapter 2 Comedy of Year

DATELINE:  Androgynous Villains Ruby Rose & Riccardo Scamarcio

Ruby Rose & Riccardo Scamarcio

Keanu Reeves is hilarious as the hitman in John Wick 2.  If you don’t believe this movie is a comedy, you have no sense of the ridiculous.

We lost track of how many people Wick kills at the Caracalla Baths, among other notable settings. It becomes utterly preposterous amid the stunning scenery. We also enjoyed a shootout in the subway with silencers so that the bustling crowds have no idea the hitmen are trying to do each other in.

Of course, one of the great set pieces is the homage, or parody, of Orson Welles’s mirror shootout in Lady from Shanghai, done here in super-exaggeration.

We are also bemused by the various androgynous killers after Keanu, especially the so-called woman (Ruby Rose) posing as a boyish killer. We laughed at Reeves buying guns at a secret shoppe like he was ordering bottles of wine for a big party.

The film is a flamboyant hoot, populated by a bunch of cameo star roles, from John Leguizamo to Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane.

When Keanu walks down those streets of New York City, he discovers nearly every other person on the street is a professional hitman. It defies anything but laughter.

Wick is a sentimental guy who goes bananas when his dog is killed, or his car is stolen with a birthday card in the glovebox from his deceased girlfriend.

This is a big, glossy picture, filled with set pieces set around the globe with Keanu as some kind of mobster version of Jason Bourne.

We generally don’t like killings, car chases, and explosions. Yes, the film does seem to go too far with a nightclub massacre, reminiscent of the Pulse club down in Florida last year.

Other than that, the violence becomes so mindless that you figure it is like watching the latest news reports about mass shootings in (you name the location). No one blames these kind of movies nowadays for glorifying violence, or inspiring a view that life is cheap and easy to throw away.

John Wick Chapter 2 is merely a symptom of the world we live in today. Laugh it off.

MacBird Outdid Trump as Caesar 45 years ago

 Julius Trump?

DATELINE:  Shakespeare in Absentia

We have seen many updated versions of Shakespeare over the years. Indeed, we enjoy seeing the Bard transported to new locations and timeframes. It often electrifies the message that has become stale to modern audiences.

We have seen Shakespeare set in Nazi Germany (Richard III), in the world of bikers (Coriolanus), in the world of independent film students (Hamlet), a corporate boardroom (Othello), and now we find a stage production of Julius Caesar in American politics.

The Shakespeare in the Park production makes Caesar a lookalike Donald Trump who hath grown ambitious. He has that chock of blond hair weave and an overlong red tie. He also has a bloated ego.

The man who would be emperor is assassinated by senators with knives, just like 2000 years ago. How much progress we have made in politics?

This version has created a firestorm, causing corporate sponsors to try to stifle artistic expression by withdrawing support. It’s a tempest in a teapot.

We think back to the Vietnam War days—and back then we must have been less sensitive because Macbeth was presented on stage in the form of MacBird.

That little ditty suggested that Lyndon Johnson had been behind the assassination of John Kennedy. In this cruel satire, without the Shakespearean tongue, the Scottish thane Macbird and his wife, Lady Bird, are party to a ruthless series of killings to rise to the top of the nation. Was Lyndon not born of woman?

We recall amusement about seeing a dumb tasteless play that presented President Johnson portrayed for conspiracy theorists  as Macbeth, but it did not quite engender the furor that President Trump has exemplified in a Caesar mode.

Satirizing politics of the moment has become a dangerous business. Just ask Alec Baldwin or Kathy Griffin who claim they are subject to social anger on social media.

So, too, Julius Caesar has created a debate—not about politics, but about art. To be or not, we’ll wait for the movie version.

Is It Real??? or Just Another Movie!*

realkindlecover cover pictures include real and fake!

DATELINE:  New Book of Movie Reviews

Ossurworld wants to announce that a collection of reviews and commentaries on documentaries, docudramas, and biopics, is now available on Amazon.com for discerning movie fans and smart readers.

If Pontius Pilate asked, “What is truth?” he’d be accused today of being a fake news critic…We have mixed up the real documentaries with those based on a true story in this compendium. You likely can guess when you have a real documentary on your hands, but not always. Sometimes it’s a biopic, or a docudrama, or just speculative facts and opinion. Sometimes the film is a masterpiece, and sometimes it’s just another movie.

We are sure that Ossurworld will start giving these away with a set of dishes sometime in the future. We think these reviews are swell, sometimes even funny. We hope you will too.

*Includes a few TV reviews.

 

Collateral Beauty: Time for Love & Death to Take a Holiday

 Mirren Kills'em.jpg Mirren Kills’em

DATELINE:  Bereavement Hallucinations

Every once in a while a movie comes along that invites insult and derision. This time it is  Will Smith’s dramedy called Collateral Beauty.

It has echoes of so many other, better stories, that we aren’t sure where to begin the diagnosis.

From the trailer you might believe this is a fantasy film on the lines of Love, Death, and Time, Meet in New York. You’d have been deceived, sort of.

A depressed man, dealing with the death of his child of six, has business associates that want to have evidence to commit him to a looney bin.

So, they arrange for actors to play Love, Death, and Time, to pay him a visit. It’s Gaslight—but as Helen Mirren, playing Death, discovers in the course of the movie, no one remembers that classic film, known for its good acting. No one will remember this one for that same reason.

When you start out with some of the most unlikable characters all woven into one plot, you are already behind the Oscar voting. Will Smith knows about being overlooked for a good performance—and lets his natural gray hairs show his love for acting this time as the movie lay dying.

We presume this is a cautionary tale—but we aren’t quite sure if we are being warned about sneaky business partners, cruel fate, or bloated self-pity. There is plenty of that stuff to go around in this movie. Just call it a sentimental journey.

Here’s the rub: you probably will watch it and hate yourself in the morning, which may be the opposite emotion the film wants you to have. It preaches at the audience enough to cause a backlash.

You may actually begin to think those “actors” playing at Death, Love, and Time, may be the real thing, like a coven of witches hanging out in the Big Apple for laughs.

At one point, Helen Mirren says, “This is not Noel Coward. It’s more like Chekhov.”  Yes, the movie never falls short on lofty pretensions. You could do worse.

Kroc Pot Founder

Kroc

DATELINE:  Your Inner Trump

Giving a tour de force performance, Michael Keaton almost wills the movie to be successful. Yet, there is the sound of Beetlejuice coming through when Ray Kroc makes his rapid-fire sales pitch. It is, at first, amusing—and then rather diabolical. It’s like watching Donald Trump’s “how to” video.

It was not the year for a movie about a Trump-style businessman in Hollywood. Just ask Meryl Streep. The Founder tells how McDonalds food chain grew to a billion-burgers-sold by hook and crook.

Other than that, the story reveals how Ray Kroc took the McDonald Brothers idea for fast food and ran with it.

Ray Kroc was not beyond taking credit for the ideas of the original McDonalds creators, but he also had to fight their small-minded integrity to quality. Kroc had traveled around the country selling milk shake mixers and recognized whatever quality McDonalds had was already ten times better than the competition in 1954.

He skimmed a little to expand the business. Shake well and stir.

When you hear Kroc’s explanation of how the Golden Arches fit in with the American flag and church crosses, you almost feel his fervor to eat a hamburger as an act of America becoming great.

What starts out as a visionary film depicting the wonderful ingenuity of the original McDonald brothers deteriorates rapidly into a tale of corporate greed, the side-effect of Ray Kroc’s vision. Beetlejuice in your head can do that.

The film has been ignored for probably glorifying crass commercialism in a Hollywood that thinks it is better than thou. This movie celebrates the Middle America out of fashion among those who hate fast food, environmental carelessness, and persistent ambition.

Dare we call them blue-nose Democrats?

You may not have to be a rugged individualist Republican to become a fan of this movie, but chances are you will be more inclined to see the virtues here among the dubious and ruthless business practices and Seven Deadly Sins.

As a movie depiction of an era and how to rake in a billion per year, this one will fascinate you– if you are willing to drive-thru.

Night Must Fall, or at Least Trip Lightly

wacky mcavoy

DATELINE:  Shyamalan’s Latest

Producers continue to give M. Night Shyamalan money to make movies of his choice, despite commercial and critical disparaging words.

The latest is called Split, about a man (if you can call him that in a supernatural thriller) with 24 personalities.  That’s a personality disorder with capital letters. It is about as overwrought as hyperbole can make it.

Shyamalan wrote this as well as directed. In terms of his writing, this film obviously came together after he saw William Wyler’s The Collector from 1965. That film is about a disturbed young man who kidnaps a beautiful girl and keeps her prisoner in hopes of making her fall in love with him.

This time, the man with the identity disorder kidnaps three women and keeps them prisoner in an elaborate underground prison. At least the John Fowler story of The Collector explained how he won the lottery which financed his mad caprices.

That’s not enough here. Shyamalan adds a touch of Hannibal Lecter and Psycho to the mix. That should pile-on adequately.

Don’t misjudge: this film has a rather wild performance by James McAvoy who limns about six personalities. He is highly watchable. Betty Buckley plays his therapist who is a classic enabler.

Shyamalan has all his usual Hitchcockian pretenses at hand: he makes a cameo again, sets all his films in Philadelphia, and loves to hear echoes of other movies. If you think this is his best since Sixth Sense, he will agree with you—as the sequel is already on the books, Mr. Glass.

Indeed, Bruce Willis makes a cameo at the end to promote the sequel. Nothing like trying to microwave your stew to guarantee an audience smells the aroma.

The film reaches the outer limits by the end credits, trying to sell us that psychosis is actually a means to reach the supernatural. Our grandmother used to say, “Balderdash,” and it still fits.

Grant, Kerr, & Nesbitt in Charming Weeper

Memorable Affair.jpg

DATELINE: Nearest Thing to Heaven

You cannot judge An Affair to Remember by any normal standard of film-making. Since its 1957 debut, Leo McCarey’s dinosaur storyline and archaic approach passes for classic movie-making.

The film has anachronisms abounding, but cast that aside. It is the cast he assembled and has given them reins of control. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr are at the peak of their careers, slightly past the middle-age that would soon have them by-passed by a new Hollywood.

The film’s plot is a trifle, yet elegant, charming, sophisticated, and sentimental. Your stars are clearly not typical American celebrities, and they play social climbers way ahead of their social standing, ready to plunge into high society by means of deceptive façade. Any fault in this movie does not lie in the stars.

On a ship voyage to the United States, Cary and Deborah have a frothy, light comedy of interplay, under the watchful eye of paparazzi and gossip. It’s a pink champagne tale. Engaged to money, they both eschew this for true love before it’s too late.

Interspersed here is a small role by Cathleen Nesbitt as Cary’s grandmother. She’s closer to the age of his real mother, but no matter. The trio of actors know something about loss: Nesbitt in her youth was engaged to marry the beautiful poet Rupert Brooke when he was killed in World War I. Grant went through multiple marriages and gave up Randy Scott.

Add a melody that remains an emotional stake in the heart, replayed constantly to put tragedy next to love. It isn’t a mid-life Tristan and Isolde, but it will do.

The film may cause you to weep through a box of Kleenex. If not, you are a victim of Medusa’s stony glare. You cannot watch the final 15 minutes of the film and not find two actors in better form anywhere.

Ancient Aliens Meets Curse of Oak Island

DATELINE: Cross-Pollination of History

We are always delighted when reality shows cross paths.

Take for instance Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. We were surprised to find the basic opening of Oak Island hijacked for the Ancient Alien episode about King Tut.

Apparently the curse of King Tut and the curse of Oak Island may be tied together by space aliens. This makes a grand opportunity to take the opening credits for Oak Island and weave them into the show on ancient alien theories.

This gives the Lagina Brothers of Oak Island a chance to do a guest starring role on another History channel show. Voilà, you have free publicity to transcend both series.

Mainly it appears that each curse, from Tut to Oak Island, has claimed seven lives. That’s the opening the Lagina reality show, which says a seventh person must die. Young King Tut has already gotten his seven.

According to Ancient Alien theorists, buried treasures have been cursed by aliens with technological incantations that send voice-activated electrocution bolts to interlopers. Whew. Who knew?

Ancient Astronaut theorists believe the Ark of the Covenant is hidden at Oak island. This ties into the stone tablets discovered in Tut’s tomb somehow.  How? Well, King Tut’s uncle, Thutmose was actually Moses, and he took the Ark out of Egypt. This theory came first from Sigmund Freud!!

The Ark contained an alien device of immense power. When it was discovered by the Knights Templar, they brought it to Oak Island.

Are you still there?

This explains the mystery stone discovered in the shaft of Oak Island as having properties of Ancient Egyptian curse tablets. This means the Ark with its extraterrestrial powers is buried on Oak Island.

We expect further pollination of shows when the tomb of Laura Palmer is discovered at Twin Peaks, proving she is a goddess of ancient Egypt.

Oh, you disbeliever. Curses, foiled again.