Home Of Pure Retro Movie Love.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Drive-in Reviews: Fast And Furious & Observe And Report (2009)


This past weekend marked my first trip to the Drive-in this year. This city boy has entered his sophomore year going to one and it's a blast every time.

Going to the drive-in, snacking on whatever you bring (but only if you support these mom & pop drive-ins by buying something at the concession stand-I usually buy beverages there) and just relaxin' with your old lady by your side before the movie shows begin is a thing of beauty. The particular drive-in I go to has a nice country atmosphere about it and it's really nice to be away from the hustle bustle and just chill out... Not to mention the bonus fun of looking up at the stars in my little VW Beetle convertible while watching a trashy movie or two.

Watching trashy movies are essential for drive-ins. Since most new movie shows, whether they are closeted trash or not, aspire to be classy studio films, it's hard to find something actually fun and drive-in appropriate to see. But who am I kidding, i'll see anything to be in this atmosphere.


For the inaugural trip this year we decided on the latest sequel to a fun franchise (though I was no fan of John Singleton's ineptly made 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS) this go round simply titled: FAST & FURIOUS. Who needs THE'S, anyway?

FAST & FURIOUS became a bonafide box office hit this spring and it's exactly the kind of movie you'd want to see if you were into cars and just nonsense plotting and action. Shut your brain off for the next 100 minutes or so and you'll get many the car chases, foot chases, impossible cgi-enhanced stunts and macho posing you'd expect in a movie as such. But wait, you'll also get a fun glimpse into a sub-culture and some Vin Diesel tears! This is a movie so secure with it's macho revving that it found some time to feel the pain and emote.


Director Justin Lin was carried over from the previous FAST picture and he continues to add bits here and there that confound the fact that the people making these films for the most part actually care about the car culture which is of course at the forefront on the film. Forget the bad guy running drugs plot and revenge for a fallen loved one. Just get lost and become a gear head like the rest of these dudes... I'm game for part 5. Maybe with some European flava!


FILM #2 at the double feature really didn't fare as well. Seth Rogen's OBSERVE & REPORT essentially feels like a movie made by 13 year old guys who want to cram in every adolescent delight they can while retaining a dark and so-called uncompromised vision... It's an occasionally funny movie (thanks mostly to Anna Farris) but often feels just brash and rude for no good reason. Maybe a result of it's star feeling he needed to escape the saccharine of other Hollywood projects.


I often found myself looking over at another screen at the drive-in (they have 3 screens) and watching the utter ridiculousness of CRANK 2 (I think at some point that movie literally turns into a video game and a godzilla film!) and wishing it had been part of this double feature. Eventually, I just got pretty tired of OBSERVE and my neck was cramping from looking over at other stuff and we drove away. Thank heavens for Vin Diesel's crank shaft to keep at least half of the double feature movie show the right amount of fun.

Here's to the next trip on the Hudson for another fix of drive-in love.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

DVD Evaders: Dance Of The Damned (1988)



Director Katt Shea's forgotten low budget DANCE OF THE DAMNED can be best described as this: A suicidal Stripper one particularly devastating night meets up with a mulleted vampire at the sleazy club where she dances, and they in turn reenact My Dinner With Andre...By way of anger, bloodletting, desperation, exotic dancing and of course existentialism.

The surprise you'll find in this thick slice of late 80's fashion, hair choices and art direction are some genuine moments of honesty and yearning.

The suicidal stripper and mulleted vampire are 2 very desperate souls and they connect in a most interesting way. There may be no real dinner other than some blood sucking, but their conversations are unique and the dialogue rings with a real truth and sadness.

Every time I watch this film I truly get caught up in it's charms, overlooking the obvious budgetary restrictions and bad hair.

If the prospect of watching a vampire poke someone's eye out with a flying rose from his lapel while later helping someone to learn some of the meanings of and to appreciate life, you might want to check out this film before it's damned forever.

Trailer:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New to DVD: Glen And Randa (1971)

Just wanted to share with everyone this.... On Tuesday, April 28th, Jim McBride's film GLEN AND RANDA finally hits DVD. Anyone who's ever seen this film knows how utterly awesome it is. It's the kind of movie that sticks with you for a long time. For those who are curious, you should totally check it out.



IMDB:

Glen And Randa

Theatrical Poster:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Movie Show Review: Adventureland & I Love You, Man (2009)

I complain a lot about the current state of cinema. I fear there are far too few movies that come along that brim with honesty and don't condescend to their audience. To keep things in perspective and reel it all in after seeing something crap, I tend to watch a film made in the 70's and some in the 80's to find those qualities sorely lacking in the modern. Thankfully it's not all a wash. Once and awhile there are films that manage to capture it's world and characters in such a way that makes my heart happy. Cynicism and irony are too easy, but a movie that can be both sweet-natured and honest without a lot of compromise. I'm in love.

Greg Motolla's ADVENTURELAND arrives at a time when I was starting to think cinema for this year was pretty bleak. The only other film I enjoyed so far has been "I LOVE YOU, MAN" as that film painted it's characters and their frustrations with the inability to connect with others very well in a very funny way while slyly satirizing our current culture's ease of falling into the mediocre. In some ways, it's as if the dissatisfied yet smart youths of ADVENTURELAND grew up and became the dissatisfied knowing adults in LOVE. Both films in their own ways brilliantly display the pain while remaining somewhat subtle and funny. It's that balancing act that's really hard to achieve because as a filmgoer you want to see something honest and personal, but you also want entertainment.


What ADVENTURELAND also does so well is paint it's time period of 1987 as one not just of nostalgia (which movies set in the 80's only seem to do) but rather it stays true to what the characters were feeling and going through of that moment. When we were of that age we weren't already fondly looking back at our past but rather we marching towards adulthood and the next chapter of our lives. This is the last summer for these kids as real life looms for them in the fall so change is inevitable. And for these kids it's something they need to work towards to desperately break away from the problems of their current situations. In a way, the theme park itself acts as a metaphor for that holding period in their lives, and you really sense the struggle it's lead character faces with having to work there to pay his way through school in New York, which also happens to be the destination of his romantic interest (What better place to work towards, eh?)

The film wisely grounds it's two romantic leads in a serious way, letting their subtleties provide the comedy while the supporting players crank it up with their unique and funny characterizations. Martin Starr's Joel nearly walks away with the film as he's both hilarious and heartbreaking in his portrayal of a nerd with a tender heart of glass.


The music is also another highlight of ADVENTURELAND as it deftly puts together tunes that we both fondly recall and those that we may have wanted to forget at the time as they got way too much play. You'll find an eclectic mix of Judas Priest, Husker Du, The Replacements, Falco, David Bowie, Mary Jane Girls, The Velvet Underground, Outfield, The Cure, Animotion, The New York Dolls and even some Whitesnake. Oh, and there's a fun dance scene with a character named "Lisa P." set to the tune of Shannon's Let The Music Play.

As it is, ADVENTURELAND is the best picture I've seen so far this year.

Not too far off was I LOVE YOU, MAN. Paul Rudd's knack for playing sarcasm to the hilt is put a bit on hold here in lieu of playing the straight man to Jason Segel's zany ways, but he manages to find very funny notes regardless. He has a very uncanny way of making you very uncomfortable with the way he slips his tongue as he tries to fit in with others to make friends and comes out with some really weird yet funny moments of word play.

I LOVE YOU, MAN is the kind of movie who's trailer puts it all upfront on what's in store and the comedy you'd expect, but manages to sneak in many other subtle funny and smart moments you wouldn't expect in the buddy comedy. The chemistry between the two leads in undeniable and even though the movie marches toward an inevitable climax, you walk away feeling happy and satisfied.


Thanks to the great jobs by the actors and the witty script, you get real insight into their world and the movie manages to poke fun at the dissatisfaction in our adult lives and how much we settle with what could be called mediocrity. These kinds of Buddy comedies exist to allow their characters to shake up their worlds and come out of their shells, but I haven't seen one in a long time that actually goes a step further to layer in the fact that we've become too accustomed with things that make our lives easier rather than things that stimulate us and allow us to grow. Last year's STEPBROTHERS tried to bring similar things to light but was a bit flattened by the zaniness of it all.


I LOVE YOU, MAN finds the right balance of comedy and smarts and I wanted to see it again after it was all over. That's the kind of movie I enjoy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

DVD Evaders: Pretty Maids All In A Row (1971)



One of my absolute favorite films, PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW is a movie that defies categorization. Sometimes it's a teen coming of age tale. Other times it's a wacky late 60's early 70's sex comedy. And then it's also an all-star murder mystery. The most oddest fact about this picture is that it was produced & written by Star Trek's Gene Roddenberry (James Doohan shows up in the film as Telly Savalas' sidekick!) I guess Gene was trying to shake off the fact that his show was canceled by coming up with this doozy of a script. Or maybe it was his chance to be around so many fine lookin' 70's babes.

Either way, PRETTY's got something for everyone. So why hasn't MGM put this fun film out on DVD for the world to enjoy?

Opening scenes (with super catchy theme song by The Osmonds!):



***UPDATE 10/7/10 - Warner Archives has now released Pretty Maids All In A Row on DVD exclusively from their website. Yay!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fire With Fire (1986)

What do you do when you're 33, feeling old, drinking scotch and generally feeling bored?

Watch movies and reminisce, of course!

I am currently obsessed with this movie:



While it's not a perfect movie, FIRE WITH FIRE really captured my attention and emotions throughout my adolescence. It's a heartfelt love store, juvenile delinquent tale and has 2 very engaging performances by it's leads. I was obsessed with Virginia Madsen throughout these pivotal formative years and the moment in the film where she re-enacts the Ophelia painting really compounded that all for me.

The theater going experience of watching FIRE WITH FIRE back in the cinema in 1986 was one where I remember most the moment where the lead characters (separately) go themselves to see a film (A Friday the 13th movie) and can't seem to take their eyes off each other rather than the screen. Love at first sight and the movies. I can completely empathize. I raise my glass of scotch to young love.

Friday, April 3, 2009

DVD Evaders: Forgotten New York Movies edition

In week #6, Cinema Du Meep is like, what's up with all these movies set in New York not getting their due with a dvd release yet?

Among my favorites:

























And how about all these New York movie refugees?

80 BLOCKS FROM TIFFANY'S
THE ADDICTION
THE APRIL FOOLS
BAD (ANDY WARHOL'S)
THE BLANK GENERATION
BLUE MOVIE
A CERTAIN SACRIFICE
CHELSEA GIRLS
THE CHOSEN
CLARA'S HEART
CLASS OF '44
COLD FEET
COUSIN BOBBY
CRAZY JOE
DENISE CALLS UP
ENDLESS LOVE
FIRSTBORN
THE FIRST TIME (1969)
FLAMING CREATURES
GARBO TALKS
GORDON'S WAR
GREETINGS
HARRY AND TONTO
HOME MOVIES
I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER
LAST EMBRACE
LAW AND DISORDER
LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER
THE NIGHT WE NEVER MET
NIGHTMARE
OFF BEAT
ONLY WHEN I LAUGH
OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
THE PARK IS MINE
PATERNITY
POUND
PUZZLE OF A DOWNFALL CHILD
THE RAIN PEOPLE
REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE
RENALDO & CLARA
RICH KIDS
THE SAINT OF FORT WASHINGTON
SIDEWALK STORIES
SING
THE STERILE CUCKOO
SUDDEN DEATH (1985)
SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963)
SWEET NOVEMBER (1968)
TIMES SQUARE
TOUGHER THAN LEATHER
THE TROUBLEMAKER
TRUE IDENTITY
VANYA ON 42ND STREET
WHERE'S POPPA?
WILLIE & PHIL
WHO IS HARRY KELLERMAN AND WHY HE IS SAYING THOSE TERRIBLE THINGS ABOUT ME?
YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW
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