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MisteRogers' Neighborhood (1968)
Remembering Mr. Rogers.
I reluctantly admit that I was not a frequent viewer of his program growing up as a child. I do remember watching his show a few times in completion, but Mr. Rogers failed to entertain me which is a shame, because his message and intentions were absolutely timeless, Christian and humanitarian. With his consoling demeanor, soft spoken sincerity and monumental contribution to Child development, I should have been more attentive. But I wasn't. I preferred the energetic and faster pace of shows like Sesame Street, Electric Company, Kroft Superstar lineups and The Brady Bunch, etc. Children have shorter attention spans and perhaps when presenting the material of Mr. Rogers to child viewers there is a lapse in providing excitement and energy which is what children want. But we cannot deny that this is the type of material children need. Maybe the program needed a boost in popularizing itself to gain a wider audience. I'm not sure. In retrospect, as Fred McFeely's legacy has been under the radar in recent months, I can see the enduring legacy and value to humanity he left behind. Hopefully, his message can be perpetuated in a form that captures our attention while not deviating from the intentions of goodwill and compassion.
This debacle was destined for failure.
Wired was so reviled by the few groups who saw it before it's initial release that it had already become panned goods before its brief stint in the theaters. Having been seen by a few members of John Belushi's circle, Dan Akroyd included, those few maligned this film for the misguided and bizarre camp that it was. And rightfully so. Dan Akroyd, Belushi's closest friend and cohort urged the public not to see this film due to its offensive nature and its lack of realistic content. Who can blame them? On what should have been a sentimental portrait and funny recount of the actor's life turns out to be the most unflattering, tasteless, nearly repulsive and weirdly conceived idea of presenting a Biopic.
Apparently, Wired, based loosely on the Bob Woodward biography of the late John Belushi, had problems from the very beginning. I never read the book, but I heard some bad things about it. And after seeing this excruciatingly unwatchable film I'm lead to skepticism on whether some of the content is even factual. Regardless if you were an SNL or Belushi fan there is no question that this nauseating snoozefest will put off nearly any viewer. Bob Woodward served as a consultant and main promoter to this film and was invariably met with rejection from many distributors who wanted nothing to do with this project. It took nearly three years to get this project into full swing, because they couldn't find an actor to play the lead role. So, they cast their hopes on a complete unknown and newcomer named Michael Chiklis. This naïve young actor, although a good and respectable actor, has the impossible task of recreating the legend along with trudging through this sordid material.
As for the movie? What can I say? It's a bleak attempt to serve as an allegory on Drug abuse whilst using the "Christmas Carol" theme with some bizarre dreamlike sequences and frenetic usage of flashbacks combined with hallucinatory scenes. This non-linear approach to storytelling has been done effectively with other films. But here it looks absurd and inappropriate. Michael Chiklis is a capable actor today and has proven his value as a performer, but here he falls short. We can see he's trying very hard and he does put much effort into the role. Unfortunately, he doesn't capture the mannerisms, explosive humor or impeccable timing that Belushi possessed. Impersonating a legend can be difficult, especially if you are going to attempt to do someone as wild and unpredictable as Belushi. The film shows a few reenactments of the famous JB sketches from The Blues Brothers, The Samurai baseball scene, and a couple of others. But it's like he's just going through the motions and can't quite nail the comedic timing of the moment which Belushi was so good at. Therefore, these few unfunny sketch reenactments just drag and are used as markers in an obligatory fashion to remind us of what JB did in his outrageous and relatively brief career. But aside from his lackluster performance, the movie doesn't reveal Belushi's innate charisma and likability. Instead he's portrayed as a childish, boorish and unstable drug addled misfit who's unable to deal with life. One would question how this guy was able to become a worldwide comedic heavyweight.
This movie has many weirdly conceived ideas that just don't blend together nor do they go anywhere such as the Guardian Angel Velasquez, who acts more like a nemesis than a Spirit guide. And by the end we are still not sure what his purpose was. Bob Woodward's character, played very dryly by J.T. Walsh, is shown as a key character in the movie. This was an audacious attempt to present him as a key person in Belushi's death investigation, but it ends up being an inexcusably vain attempt to present him as a saintly figure watching over John's demise.
So much is wrong that the movie doesn't have any inspiring highpoints. We only get artistically unbalanced scenes that appear contrived, surreal or completely implausible. It tries to be Avant Garde so much that we can't really connect with it.
If you want to see a really good movie about a Comedic talent, I suggest you watch Man on the Moon starring Jim Carey. That is how a biopic should be made.
The Graduate (1967)
A Timeless Classic which compels us to ponder "What Now?"
The Graduate is one of the few older movies I can watch over and over repeatedly without ennui. It's also one of the few older movies that can endear itself multi-generationally. Even young audiences today can watch this with emotional investment. For those who think they are strictly going to see a comedy, which it was billed as, they will either be disappointed or deeply and sadly surprised. There are some funny parts, but are not always played for laughs. This movie has an undercurrent of sadness which is made all the more effective by the haunting beauty of Simon and Garfunkel's songs and the moody cinematography. These two elements are beautifully combined to create those moods of despair and loneliness.
In what is considered Dustin Hoffman's debut role, he (Benjamin Braddock) stands out as the typical awkward wimp, small in stature and afraid of his own shadow. However, we hope and believe he can overcome his shortcomings, prove his manhood and achieve an adequate modicum of self-assure. And he does. That is why Hoffman was so suited for this role.
As Ben comes home from college to that empty feeling of despair and that magical feeling of uncertainty it is so evident from the initial scenes. He feels so out of place around all these Middle aged folks at his graduation/coming home party. Director Mike Nichols does an outstanding job of making the older affluent adults look like your typical affluent stereotypes, both annoying and shallow, while making Ben appear like a little victim being overpowered by these adults. But the one person, the most captivating character in the film (Mrs. Robinson), an on-screen MILF, played brilliantly by Anne Bancroft, is the one person who treats him genuinely. With her cool and low-key demeanor she is able to capture his attention. But Ben is not so ready to jump in the hay with her. He's actually mortified at the thought of it at first. This is one of the many reasons why this story is so fun and enthralling in that we aren't sure how much experience Ben does have if he has any experience with girls at all. Mrs. Robinson is a very attractive and chic woman. But she isn't really the villain some viewers made her out to be. The story gives her far more depth revealing to us that she too is a lonely person looking for an escape.
I have heard other reviewers discuss why this movie is so important and the pathos it exudes: the gap between the young and old generation, internal loneliness, the uncertainty of life once we accomplish a goal, the inability to fit in, infidelity, young love, etc. All these themes are good and germane to the picture and Mike Nichols touches on all of them. After a couple of dramatic turning points in the film there are effective montage sequences beautifully photographed with the affecting Simon and Garfunkel score: a drive up the coast, a walk in the University quad or the climactic ending where Ben and Elaine bashfully glance at each other in the back of the escape bus wondering to themselves, What Now"?
The performances are all good throughout and Nichols knows how to get the most out of his actors with so little dialogue. In retrospect I consider the performance of Anne Bancroft to be the most interesting. She was able to convey with subtlety the inner emptiness of a manipulative, dignified, cool, gorgeous, sophisticated and vindictive woman with such depth that we are tempted to sympathize with her despite her unsavory actions.
The Graduate is truly an hypnotic experience, especially for those who are going through a transition in life wondering what it all means.
St. Vincent (2014)
Want my money back.
I hated this movie for a several reasons: Bill Murray, contrived story line, unlikable characters and the cynical belief that people would like this, because they think Bill Murray is likable enough to carry a film.
The plot drags as we see this derelict old creep being befriended by an earnest child. We are supposed to think there is a glimmer of redemption and salvation in this degenerate character. Looking bloated, pock-marked, saggy, bald and flaccid, Bill Murray plays an alcoholic thief who happens to unwittingly help out this kid with his schoolyard bullies. But in reality it's child who is the real saint and munificent one for giving this creep undue credit for just being the creep he is. It's a movie that will try to endear you to a loathsome character for dubious reasons.
Groundbreaking film with flaws.
The 1970's brought us films and books that showed us how an already competent system could also be cruel and inhumane. Due to following policy on Mental Health programs in the US, lawmakers with naïve hope thought everything would remain normal, but more pleasant and humane. The result is that matters have become much more dreadful and have brought more misery to everyone.
Cuckoo's Nest, based on the acclaimed novel by Ken Kesey, is not a movie about Mental illness. It is a movie about oppression, power struggle and abuse. It by no means tries to address the state of affairs with those afflicted with mental illness, but rather serves as an indictment against Mental Institutions. Herein lies the many problems people have with this supposed cinematic masterpiece. I have read some critics reviews who are experienced people in the Mental health profession. They didn't feel the characters were authentic or believable to the patients they have worked with in their respective jobs. I believe that. It's also insulting, as one person noted, that to think that all these patients need is a field trip with some booze and hookers to guide them on the path to sanity and freedom. That's a very immature viewpoint that this movie assumes.
Jack Nicholson, along with the rest of the cast give energetic and bravura performances, but the film's point really jars with my sensibilities on a few levels. Nurse Ratched, the supposed heartless villain, is really just a firm, no-nonsense woman who's trying to do her job under stressful circumstances. If anyone has ever worked in the mental health profession, they will attest that this film's viewpoint is disingenuous and inaccurate. Mentally unstable patients are often deceptive and violent people causing harm to themselves and others. This movie presents them as passive and gentle souls who are being wrongfully abused.
If you're an anti-establishment person, this is the movie for you. If you're more moderate and reasonable in how you balance justice and humanity you will be bitterly disappointed. Most uninspiring is how it never explores mental illness and how it impacts the people who are affected by it. It just shows these mentally deranged/incapable people as zoo animals that you gawk at out of curiosity, or even worse, for laughs. That I found to be disappointing from a movie that needs to reassess its values. So we don't really get any insight on the complexities of mental illness. The central theme is one of a power struggle between our main protagonists, McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) and Nurse Ratched) Louise Fletcher.
Tarantino's undying foot fetish.
Look at all those old vintage cars of the 60's. Look at all those nostalgic billboard ads, lighting fixtures, furniture, street signs, clothing fashion and almost everything down to Freezer Ice crushers, and we have ourselves a heyday of cinematic stimuli loaded with nostalgia for those who can appreciate it. Throw in a story about an actor whose career is on the skids and we are in a for a treat down Hollywood Memory Lane inserted with actors, TV shows, Movie posters and events reminiscent of that era (The end of Hollywood's Golden Age.)
Leonardo Decaprio does a terrific job in this role, showing humility, insecurity, toughness and tenacity. He's an actor who's faced with the dire revelation that his career is dwindling. With the help of his sidekick/Stunt Double friend, Brad Pitt, he takes the advice of Hollywood producer, Mr. Shwarsz, (Al Pacino) to embark on a new career of Italian cinema to revive his dying career. With reluctance, he precariously decides to go along with this recommendation and encouragement from his Stunt Double friend. While I think the plot is threadbare, Tarantino's dedication to set design and getting all the nostalgic markings with meticulous attention to detail is impressive. I had to look real closely to find mistakes and anachronisms. There were only two: This story takes place in 1969. We see a Boeing 747 flying which wasn't put into domestic service until after its Maiden flight in January 1970. The Joe Namath Biker movie, CC & Company, wasn't released until August 1970. These were minor mistakes, but still nice to see.
I think the whole backstory to the infamous Manson murders could have been handled differently, if not more interestingly. The story doesn't give us much insight to this weird crime other than to intertwine this story as some gruesome memory. The scene at the Hippie commune could have been altered considerably if not completely omitted from the screenplay and the story wouldn't have suffered. Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth, looking disheveled and every bit his years plays a role he's comfortable in. With his cheesey and squalid dump of an apartment he finds comfort in hanging out with his Pitbull pet. After a hiatus from the public eye, Pitt makes a comeback playing a lowlife Stuntman who happens to be good with his fists. It's as if in order to clinch the deal to be in Tarantino's movie, he has to come off as a badass.
Although there are some things I liked about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the movie is just too long. Too much time is wasted in a few superfluous characters and nuances that seem to just drag. I understand that Tarantino has a penchant for giving his audience a taste of nostalgia. But that doesn't always make for an involving plot. And this is where my interest fell short. Since the Manson clan serves as the backstory I was hoping for something perhaps different than what we got: a recreation of the actual events, a fabricated yet interesting twist to what occurred on that infamous and grisly night, or perhaps to serve as a subplot to the main story. But we get none of these. Instead, as we hope that the story will get more interesting once the buildup occurs for the climax, it falls into absurdity and parody. Tarantino just wants to rewrite history in his own twisted fantasy. Quite disappointing. If a director decides to reveal a difficult topic such as this, he should do so with the courageous outlook that people will be impressed and inspired by his vision. But Tarantino cops out and turns it into a ridiculous cartoon fantasy. What a letdown. There are a couple of charming scenes where our hero interacts with a cute child actor. The little girl is the only likable character in the movie. Watching Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate drive around Hollywood Hills all decked out in an open cockpit MGB is cool to watch. The Playboy Mansion scene looks nice even though the random bunnies dancing looks totally choreographed. The Bruce Lee scene is nothing more than a shameless mockery of the late Kung Fu master, Bruce fans need to pass on this. I liked the film's perspective on the business of Hollywood interspersing narration with glimpses of our star's new career trajectory and how he rebounds back into stardom. Even though the story and the manipulation of history is arbitrary and disappointing, it's best to just capture the special moments of nostalgia. And that's what Tarantino does best.
Brief Encounter (1974)
Disappointing and weak.
With two very charismatic stars I was hoping to see some major sparks fly. Unfortunately, the restrained British manner which the two main characters possess doesn't build up much from their initial polite consciousness from their first meeting.
Loren and Burton really could have made the sparks fly with their magnetic appeal. The chemistry was there, the eye contact was there and the opportunity was there to really see some tension. But why was it so flat? Perhaps the fault lies in the direction. The script certainly offered some buildup, but the action didn't seem to follow or match.
Two strangers meet at a railway station. He's a physician and she's a Social worker for a women's assistance bureau. Both admit to being married, but inevitably fall for each other. Burton's character is more pursuant while Loren is more coy. I did like the honest dialogue where both characters weigh and commiserate over the possible repercussions of infidelity and divorce. The outcome being more disastrous for her since she's raising two children. I do appreciate that a story can acknowledge the risks of the situation and all those involved, but that would disappoint those who are looking for a steamy affair to consummate. The affair lasts but a few weeks as the two agree to meet every Wednesday afternoon. They engage in simple outings such as walks in the park or dining in cafes. But when the chance comes for them to get together for that rendezvous finale they are interrupted unexpectedly which destroys their evening and ultimately ends the fling.
I like both of these stars and both possess finesse and class. But their approach for their characters here left me high and dry.
Summer of '42 (1971)
Breakthrough film that was misunderstood and somewhat overrated.
The Summer of 42' is a 1971 memory film that's narrated by the main character who tries to convey a special time in his youth that would change his life forever. Fine, we all know the basic premise; three friends travel to a New England island for the summer. One of the friends Oscy (Jerry Houser) is the crude lout who constantly expresses his knowledge in sex. Hermie, the sensitive and gangly boy who's eager to break his virginity but knows very little on how to accomplish this feat. And the nerd friend. A war bride says her goodbyes to her husband as he goes overseas on his mission to serve. The rest of this story follows these boys as they venture off in to town, seeing movies, stopping by soda shops, ice cream parlors and hang out at the beach.
Of course. we are headed to that obligatory climax where the whole audience is waiting to see what will happen to Hermie and how it plays out. That's pretty much all we look forward to. The rest of the movie is filled with some sophomoric humor, mediocre acting and a couple scenes that are just played to promote laughter. Depending on your state of mind, it may just make you cringe which was beyond its intended purpose.
This movie highly benefits from a beautiful and effecting score which won an Oscar. The cinematography is lovely with the magnificent view of the ocean and the nearby beaches. And I hate to admit this as many other perverted guys have, but Jennifer O'Neill as Dorothy is too pretty to ignore. The boys are typical hormonal teenagers. Jerry Houser is the most grotesque and obnoxious of the three. He was one character I found hard to watch and accept. Gary Grimes as Hermie is perfectly cast displaying teenage awkwardness while showing an earnest appeal of goodwill and friendship for Dorothy.
Plus, the overall premise is interesting enough for any man who wants to get another person's perspective of when and how they lost their virginity. I was in for the ride even though some of the scenes didn't work well. That's either a misfire in the acting, directing or both. The two teenage girls the boys hook up with are also miscast. The blonde, who's supposed to be the prettier girl, is too chubby and boyish in the face to be regarded as such. The brunette girl, who's supposed to be the homely girl, was actually better looking than the other. So. miscasting was a problem here for me.
Parents are never seen in this picture for reasons I'm not sure about. I've noticed in other reviews that people have to constantly remark on "Nostalgia", ad nauseum. I don't see why nostalgia should be a theme here. And if so, it doesn't resonate with any force other than showing us American life in 1942. I think that the use of nostalgia to convey a certain mindset of American youth in the 40's can be problematic especially since the narration has to frequently remind us of it. But we never know exactly what that is in relation to who we are now. In addition, the exalting music and narrative purports to add a layer of profundity to a rather simple love story. What I think is most important for a story such as this is to see how a 15 year comes to grips with his need for acceptance, proving his manhood, and impressing a woman while struggling with his own teenage growing pains. But the movie falls short of this if not completely fails. We never really get to know Hermie, what it is that's troubling him and how he deals with these prurient feelings that are overcoming him. The script doesn't allow for us to see those moments other than the cheesy scene where he helps Dorothy load groceries and boxes in her beach house. Other people have expressed strong disapproval for the double standard of statutory rape and the role reversal of young male and older female. Quite honestly, I wasn't offended one bit. Nor did that theme ever enter my moral compass. because I know the story's intention is one of compassion and sympathy. Herein lies my biggest complaint. I'm not complaining about this movie inasmuch as I'm complaining about the reactions of those who've seen it. You'll get those jerky high school/college boys who joke around in that obnoxious and boorish tone about how this is a funny movie from their immature and unsophisticated viewpoint. You'll also get those who praise this as some epic masterpiece that captures a specific time capsule of how people were more innocent back then, And finally, you get those who will bellyache about the questionable immoral theme of the story's outcome. Each of these types of viewers are wrong and poorly mistaken of what we are supposed to gather from The Summer of 42'.
Change of Habit (1969)
Critics don't understand this movie.
Elvis completed his last three films in 1969: Charro!, The Trouble with Girls and the ever so curious Change of Habit, The last of which is the most interesting and noteworthy.
Elvis plays a General Practitioner who runs an inner-city clinic. And he also happens to perform music as a sideline! Surprise! No reasons are given as to why his character is musically talented other than it's obligatory design for Elvis fans to get at least some dose of the late King's vocal talent.
In comes a trio of nuns from a local Council who decide to embark on a project to help troubled inner-city youth. The Sisters devise a plan to win over the people by portraying themselves as volunteers dressed in normal clothing and not the stuffy Nun garb that normally make them stand out. I guess that plan works and it definitely gives us a chance to see these women dress up to look sexy. These women are naturally prettier than Nuns in real life. MTM plays the head nun in charge of this outfit. The rest of the story is pretty predictable. Elvis pursues MTM, even though she's a nun and she tries to hold back the urge to fall for this handsome and hip doctor. There are some good parts to this rather contrived story and I must it admit that the plot foreshadows much of the socio-political outlooks of the times. They touch upon poverty, racism, gender stereotypes, mental illness and other social problems. But since these themes only serve as a backdrop to the plot they are treated in a shallow manner. For anyone familiar with Elvis' film career I'm sure they will find this picture either a refreshing change to his inane formula movies or as just a weird conceit that didn't please his fans. After seeing too many of the likes of Girl Happy, Roustabout. Girls Girls Girls, Clambake, Double Trouble, et al, I'm glad Elvis made an attempt to steer away from the silliness that plagued his earlier scripts. And here he looks totally comfortable, collected and under control. The King looks cool. He's a doctor who sings. He's a chick magnet.
Ed Asner superfluously appears as a cop with liberal political leanings and cultural savvy. Quite a stretch of credulity for those times.
Mary Tyler Moore mentioned in an interview that although she felt the film was dreadful, she felt Elvis was a great guy and a true gentleman. Give the movie a watch. Suspend your belief for a couple of hours and you might enjoy this.
Damage will leave you damaged.
When a prominent politician embarks on an obsessive love affair with his son's fiancée, one could easily disregard this to the trashy Romance novel from where it came. But Damage is so much more than this, because it meticulously explores this subversive action with honesty and empathy.
Jeremy Irons (Stephen Fleming) has everything a man could want, a great career, money, nice wife, beautiful house and numerous connections with influential people. He's a public figure who seems to have it all. But when he meets Anna (Juliette Binoche), he is awe struck. Anna is a raven-haired beauty with porcelain skin, sharp features and a quiet seductive quality that differs from the usual Hollywood hussy stereotype. The attraction he has for this woman is instantaneous and takes a fierce stronghold onto his pompous, dignified and stuffy nature. A man who is incapable of expressing his feelings due to upbringing, his station in life or whatever, suddenly spirals into this pitiful and lovesick man who can't resist the mysterious and stoic nature of Anna. As they embark on a sexual affair we see that his proper personality is put to the test. As Stephen makes numerous efforts to have sex on the sly with her we witness this prominent man becoming an emotional wreck. Looking gaunt and worried, Stephen finds it hard to sustain his life while maintaining this fling.
Although Anna is complicit in this immoral act, she at least addresses the danger and unethical nature of it. Martin Fleming, her fiancée, loves her and she knows it. She knows how this would affect him if he discovered their fling. But Stephen is willing to forego his son's well-being. The obsession Stephen has for Anna is that intense. How could a father do this to his son ? "we ask ourselves". And this is what this dark and moody tale is about. It's about how a seemingly upstanding citizen and father can lose complete control of his sensibilities in pursuit of his prurient desires. The only way to fill the void in his life is to pursue the beautiful Anna. Is he dissatisfied with his wife? He is now that Anna came into the picture. Juliette Binoche is deceptively effective in this role. She is coy, confident, and doesn't resort to behaving in a loose or sassy manner. She's able to convey so much without even showing any expression. We discover, in two dinner settings, that Anna has a tragic past that involved her brother's suicide. The parallel between Stephen's and Martin's attraction toward Anna is alarmingly similar. We know this is a doomed relationship for all involved, but who will come out unscathed and who will be destroyed is the question. Why Damage is so enthralling as a drama is the complexity of the situation. The psychological impact this has for Stephen is almost unbearable to watch, but we are still fascinated. A woman's intense power, whether it's her beauty, demeanor, collectedness or charisma can have an unyielding stronghold on any man regardless of his position in life. Stephen's weakness was his inability to rationalize and stop what was happening to him and the effect this would have on his world. Even after he ends the affair with Anna by phone in a feeble attempt to stop it all, he soon falls for her again completely smitten and owned.
Dog Years (2017)
Finally, Burt's Swan Song.
Burt was my hero growing up for many of the reasons why many other guys liked him: his charisma, charm, smarmy attitude, rogue behavior and wit. He had qualities that so many stars lack. In his most personal role ever he recounts the pivotal cornerstones of his life, the good times. the bad times and the success which also destroyed much of what he cherished. The most touching part comes at the end where he addresses the audience at his award ceremony with painful honesty and humility. It's definitely a humanistic picture where we see a former icon come to terms with himself. Worth a look.
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Frustrating, awkward, annoying and cynically fascinating.
Charles Grodin is no stranger to playing dorks, dweebs, creeps or nerds. In fact he did it so often that many of us are lead to believe he truly is the character he has portrayed so many times. We all know this tale too well. A young salesman meets a nice Jewish girl in a bar and marries her. When off to their honeymoon to Miami, he discovers that she is perpetually annoying and irritating from eating Egg salad sandwiches, talking during intercourse and stubborn about his pleas for her to put on sunscreen. Enter the Flirty Cybil Shepard and all plans go to hell. I understand that much of comedy is rooted in pain and discomfort and Neil Simon understood this very well. But The Heartbreak Kid is a plot that is so aggravating and cringe-worthy that at times we really don't see the humor. Each character becomes a cliché. Jeannie Berlin's performance is admirable, but the Stereotypical Yenta is taken to its most annoying extreme. You wonder if the writer had a deep seated hatred for new York girls. Charles Grodin is far too annoying and wimpy to even relate too. When he lies to Lila in the Hotel room, trying to cover up his escapades, it's just too implausible for anyone to take seriously. It was moments like that that made this movie frustrating. Lila gets hurt, dumped and cast by the wayside. Cybil Shepard becomes the symbol of female perfection to Grodin. And the final 40 minutes is about how he pursues her shamelessly despite her father's disdain for him. I'm not sure why women would find this humorous in the least, because it casts a very negative light on their intelligence, integrity and value. I guess a guy can see the surface humor in Grodin's actions, but if you think about how truly pitiful and reckless his actions are, there's no humor at all. It's a sad tale about a man with shabby and selfish desires and the consequences of his actions. This is not comedy. This is tragedy.
It's a big misfire.
Spectre is certainly not the best 007 film and I don't think it's Daniel Craig's fault entirely. He's just being the same 007 as he has in the three previous 007 films, bland, glum and brooding. So why did this film fail to capture the reason why 007 movies were once so fun? Mendes is good at orchestrating stunning cinematography, camera angles and such. But why does the whole 2.5 hours of film seem to drag on and on? My assertion to this flop is that everyone involved is misused. The characters' roles are either too brief, too underdeveloped or just poorly conceived. Lea Sedoux, although beautiful, is just too boring to watch. Bloefeld is too effeminate and odd to be taken seriously. That whole scene where he is torturing Bond is just goofy and insipid. Bloefeld just isn't sinister our cunning enough to engender much fear or awe. And what about Monica Bellucci? She was the best addition to this film and she's completely wasted. Her eight minutes of screen time are the best minutes of this movie and her role ends way too briefly. Her coy allure sets a stunning backdrop to the cold and desolate funeral procession. The chemistry between her and Craig is palpable and far more interesting than the, bland as goatmilk, Sedoux.
It's a shame they couldn't combine all the good aspects of this movie and construct something exciting. The result was a wasted opportunity.
The Landlord (1970)
Exploring Race relations post MLK Assassination
I came upon this movie after just seeing someone post it on a blog a few days ago. I had never heard of it, but according to the trailer it sure looked like a comedy. And it was to an extent, I should say a Black Comedy. Thanks to the smart and adroit direction of Hal Ashby, The Landlord is pretty funny considering the uneven and misappropriated dialogue. We must consider the authors of this story who happen to be African American. I know if it were written by White authors the bias would be pretty different. Nevertheless, it seems genuine if not entirely plausible. Elgar is a confused rich kid in his late 20's who has an ambivalent and dysfunctional relationship with his family. Eager to leave the nest and prove himself, he sets out to buy a Brownstone in the middle of a slum near park Slope, New York. When he arrives as the new landlord and very wet behind the ears, he instantly realizes he gets more than what he bargained for: a group of Black tenants who owe back rent for two months or more. The group is a somewhat Mottley Cruw that doesn't seem to take a liking to him at first, but sense that he's easy prey, because he's young, polite and inexperienced. Things are somewhat comical watching him interact, like a fish out of water, and trying to fit in. His initial intention is to evict the tenants systematically so he can renovaye the slum house into a chic bachelor pad. But his plans fall by the wayside as he gets immersed in his duties as a landlord, neighbor and even acquaintance. The story loses its humorous tone after midway and turns serious and frightening. Later there are brief moments of sad humor and pathos. Elgar gets one of the Black tenants pregnant, falls in love with a Mulatto woman he met at a Night club and struggles with this odd situation he has put himself into. Even though he openly shuns his family and their wishes, he can't quite handle the consequences of his choices. Ultimately, the story is a fairly sad study on young male naivety and a lesson in culture clashes.
Lee Grant is terrific as his cloying and snooty mother. Jeff Bridges shows warmth and capability in an early role. Lou Gossett is interesting as the irate cuckold who wishes to be every other ethnicity but Black. Diana Sands is very good in a role that requires strain, humility and shame.
The direction of Hal Ashby is what engineers this frantic fable. He intersperses fantasy sequences and dialogue nuances to illustrate a point. Not all of them work, but they help the continuity of the experience. Not bad for a first outing as a director.
The Comedian (2016)
Not Funny enough to be enjoyable!
To understand the poor reviews surrounding this movie is to understand the recent political screeds of Robert DeNiro. After having made a vile attempt to punch Donald Trump along with other controversial opinions it is no wonder that playing an aging insult- comic with a bad temper will further diminish his waning popularity.
DeNiro plays a comedic has-been, Jackie Burke, who has reached an all time dry spell. Playing in sleazy Comic clubs and trying to eek out a living with the aid of his long suffering manager (Edie Falco) who desperately tries revive his washed up career, but is treated with abuse. He's resentful that he can't get a decent break after she painstakingly tries to save him from his own destructive habits. Jackie is not an admirable guy. He's actually quite repulsive. However, he still has cache as a well known comic with fans of his old TV sitcom and other fellow comedians. What's interesting about this story is that it's plausible to see people idolizing someone who is renowned for being obscene, offensive and ribald. I know comedy is an ugly business that attracts unpleasant and caustic people. And we know that often times hostility and anger underlie comedians. There's also an unnecessary love-connection to the plot that doesn't help the story, but rather makes him appear as just a dirty old man who hooks up with a gal 30 years his junior. Sure, he is supposed to be a pig, but it doesn't help his character. Both him and the odd Leslie Mann look tawdry and unlikable. It's a movie that will make you feel uncomfortable while treating its audience with disdain. The performances are actually pretty good. DeNiro is not a natural comedian and it shows here. But he manages to struggle through the repugnance of his character and hit all the notes of comedic timing. Most of the jokes aren't funny at all. DeVito, Keitel are very good despite the thanklessness of their characters. Their are numerous cameos featured from Billy Crystal, Charles Grodin, Richard Belzer, Cloris Leachman et al. Brett Butler appears early in the film for less than a minute and is seen no more.
The Comedian is pretty dreadful and will most likely make you feel depressed and offended. The world of Comedy looks disgusting. Almost everything in The Comedian is offensive and uncomfortable. There's one thing I know. It definitely cured any bug in me to ever aspire to be a Stand-up comedian. The movie's main problem lies in its failure to adhere to one theme. Is it a love story about two unlikable people? Is it a character study of a sleazy entertainer? I'm not sure if the writers really agreed on anything but to all agree that they should each get their fair amount of dialogue in the script. But The Comedian isn't funny enough to enjoy, the main character is too unlikable to appreciate and the plot is not introspective enough to be interesting. Therefore, it's bound to please nobody. Moreover, I don't think elderly people would be so amused and accepting by a brash and vulgar comic who takes the liberty of offending them in the worst possible way.
Lousy execution of a Sherlock Holmes' spoof
After having never heard of this movie until I scrolled through the filmography of Gene Wilder did I come upon this forgotten film. Being that this featured the noticeable talents of performers from yesteryear : Wilder, Kahn, Feldman, DeLuise and McKern, I was expecting some interesting curios that are a reminder of 1970's comedic and cinematic styles that have faded from the fabric of our culture. After his colossal success with Mel Brooks on Young Frankenstein, Gene Wilder takes a crap shoot at his directorial and writing debut to bring us this boring spoof from his childhood passion of Sherlock Holmes. The result was a hodgepodge of the antics and shticks he frequented from song and dance numbers, frantic hollering and lunacy which proved more successful when he teamed with Brooks. Here, Gene is alone and doesn't fare as well. The jokes fall flat. The typically funny Marty Feldman has a superfluous role as Sigerson Holmes" sidekick. Poor Marty Feldman again is exploited for his Graves disease deformity. Madeline Kahn's beauty and operatic achievements shine, but the disjointed script doesn't allow her character to expand. The song and dance numbers such as the Kangaroo Hop are cringe-worthy and actually made me ill. Gene Wilder is Gene Wilder and doesn't possess any of the famed talents of his sleuth brother. Dom DeLuise is pretty funny as a zany opera star with a silly toupee. I also noticed Leo McKern, the dour, ugly and intimidating man from the Omen movies. His comedic skills are a bit off so his performance is barely tolerable.
The true core of the movie's mediocrity lies in its script and the film's title. Sigerson Holmes' is not as smart as his older brother and we don't get to see him delve into any capers that reveal investigative talent which makes the acclaimed sleuth so thrilling. Sigerson is also not stupid. So the title doesn't even work paradoxically. We don't get to see Sherlock aside from his brief part in the beginning and his 15 second talking shadow near the end. It's really a disappointment for those who crave detective stories, because the caper plot is so threadbare. The comedy gets muddled in hokey song routines that aren't funny at all. Thus, this project was bound to please no one. And watching Wilder and Kahn break into song together looked tawdry and was embarrassing.
I'm Mad as hell and Overacting can sometimes help a movie!
In the US during the Post Watergate-Vietnam War era it seemed like much of our culture was coming apart at the fringes. If not it was definitely revealed in Television. Network may the the first movie to ever take a scathing crack at the corruption of Media mavens in TV Stations, but the theme as implicated here extends to corruption of shareholders, media moguls and the powers that be that control and manipulate them.
Howard Biel, played by the legendary Peter Finch, is a washed up News anchor who has been informed his position will be terminated due to ongoing low viewer ratings. He shares an evening with an old buddy, Max Shumacher, a powerful executive from the UBS station. Together they lament the bygone glory days of TV and how they're lives have changed. Hopelessly depressed from anger and exhaustion, Howard Biel decides to announce on air to the public that he will commit suicide. The ratings practically skyrocket overnight. Mr. Biel revitalizes his waning charisma for all the wrong reasons. This is recognized by an ambitious new Program developer, Diane Christensen (Faye Dunaway). She sees this as a golden opportunity to lift UBS out of its rut and to boost ratings again. This is basically what the movie is about, written by Paddy Chayevsky. TV media will shamelessly exploit any person(s), entity or idea just for the sake of improving its stock value. Sensationalism is good whether it's negative or not. She sells her idea to the station's President, FRANK Hackett (Robert Duvall). At first Hackett, Shumacher and the other execs are appalled by lukewarm on the idea, but they later realize that any news is good news as long as it boosts ratings. This is an intelligent film that captures the essence of corporate survival with all of its backbiting, wanton ambition and calculating cruelty where people's jobs are measured in accordance with what they can bring to the financial tables. Faye Dunaway is stunning in a role she was born to play. She exhibits all the qualities of ambitious vixen: cold, calculating, gorgeous and ruthless. William Holden gives an Oscar Worthy performance as the ill-fated executive who is torn between staying with his wife and having an affair with the manipulative Christensen. Peter Finch gives a bravura performance with admirable emotional range. He was awarded the Oscar for best actor posthumously due to his untimely death just weeks before the Academy Award shoe in 1977. Each of the main characters has a moment where they display a histrionic tirade including Robert Duvall and Ned Beatty, despite his brief screen time. Lofty speeches with moralistic underpinnings are frequent throughout the plot. It's as if you are watching a Shakespeare or Ibsen play. It may be a feel a bit over the top, but it's done well and the plot never lags.
Black comedies had their inception in the 1970's and I think this may be due to our country's growing cynicism and deteriorating faith in the system. But whatever the cause may be, Sidney Lumet's direction and Chayefsky's screenplay get it right for the most part. It is also true to say this film was prescient in its dismal view on society; we see many exploitative forms of entertainment today that are similar in principle as the ones shown in Network. Although this movie uses hyperbole the concept is credible. I am incredulous to the notion that a Program would collude with a Terrorist group for the sake of boosting ratings. I'm certain that couldn't fly for it would be too problematic in our country where law and order would have to intervene.
After 40 years Network is still relevant and can be extrapolated to how we view TV today which can make us so mad that we can't take it anymore!
A Reflection of Fear (1972)
Clint had some weird taste in women.
I was never a Sondra Locke fan. In fact, like many others, she will always be remembered as Clint Eastwood's long time fling. From what I gathered from a few movies I have seen her in (mainly Malpaso Productions) is that she was always this strange and odd actress that had a very off-putting demeanor and attitude. Pale, fragile and appearing like a waif in almost everything, in this mystery thriller, she is given the role she was born to play. She's a schizophrenic teenager who has been sheltered by her mother all her life. She hears voices and is always frantic about her imaginary relationships with her stuffed animals and dolls. We understand early on that this is an extremely disturbed individual. Her mother keeps a tight lid on her whereabouts, actions and her whole life which pretty much takes place on the household estate.
In comes her estranged father and fiancée played by Robert Shaw and Sally Kellerman. He tries to mend a relationship he never had while asking the mother for a divorce in the most frank, blunt and unemotional way I have ever seen in a movie.
I will not give away the climax for it's quite predictable, but in this case we want to see how it gets there. Save your time, because this is a slow paced mystery with lethargic acting, elliptic dialogue and a lead character who never seems to break out of that zombie like gaze while uttering poetic lines with that lilting voice. Sondra Locke is definitely unique, She can look beautiful, putrid, sickly, freakish and sometimes too nubile to be taken seriously. Robert Shaw gets caught between the jealousy of his fiancée and his daughter which limits his already stiff and anal performance.
Reflections of Fear takes too long to tell us what happens what we already knew all along.
Yea sure, the BeeGees are better than the band that wrote the album.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a movie that embodies everything hideous, gaudy, inane, silly, bizarre and banal about the latter half of the 1970's. Where else can you see a decrepit octogenarian (George Burns) sing a really bad cover of "Fixing a Hole" with his frog voice and flat intonation? I could describe the sound of his voice as dirty water gurgling down a rusty drainpipe, but that may not be vivid enough. Where else can you see a revivalist band of brothers dressed in effeminate costumes posing as colorfully dressed sailors? Where else can we get a plot, or numerous subplots for that matter, all in one sophomoric land waste of celluloid? Well folks, it happened in this cringe inducing picture. Indeed. But I must not dismiss the edification of my assessment just yet. Something is amiss when we normally castigate movies like this: the well intended, the offbeat, the misguided and the noble attempts to combine that which is lovable and popular into our own creative soup. A rehash of ideas you may call it. or even lofty aspirations for those who thought they knew better.
Peter Frampton had recently earned staggering success from a record selling album while his costars, The BeeGees, shared equal success with their Saturday Night Fever album. The Beatles were still very popular even they they had been disbanded for nearly a decade. So the Hollywood mavens and the Record companies put their Acid/Cocaine induced heads together and created this travesty. Well, I guess you had to be there to understand and appreciate it.
People who were born after 1978, specifically Generation Y and millenials wouldn't understand the creation of a movie like this like I would. Having been born in 1968 and having seen a massive convergence of styles, pop culture and the departure from old fashioned norms was still very new. Today, it's not only hip to depart from tradition, it's a ubiquitous endemic. And so my friends, SPLHCL ferments in the annals of cinema history as an enormous blunder and embarrassment to those who were involved. Strangely enough, The Beatles weren't, in any way, involved with this production.
The Norseman (1978)
A Turgid Mess that is not even enjoyably bad.
The historical position that Viking Norsemen had contact with Inuits or Algonquins from the fringes of Northeast America is debatable if not highly improbable. But according to some Viking sagas there are unreliable literary claims that this happened. Based on the AI production of The Norseman this takes the historical claim to wildly preposterous levels. I did a little research after I saw this dreadful film and discovered that all they had correct were a couple of historical names and the god they worshiped (Onid) accurate.
As for the movie itself we see poorly choreographed battles sketches with clumsy jump cuts, edits and inappropriate usage of slow motion. Now I read some of the other reviews and some are quite scathing and hilarious. Teeing off on a bad movie can be fun some of you did a good job of promoting mockery and satire. Oh, but only if this movie was a satire it would be forgivable. But it's not, unfortunately. The Norseman is a 1970's B-Movie that looks more like a 1950's B- Movie with all of its cut rate production values, bad costumes, wooden acting, grandiose score and redundant tone. The problem here is that it's even worse than your average 1950's period movie.
Listening to Vikings talk with southern accents while uttering archaic dialogue is obviously just a case of bad acting and the inability to capture the proper mood for a period film. As such, the result here is just bizarre. Lee Majors plays the lead commander (Thorvald) and can't seem to shed his normal persona of a Good Old boy. Now I'll try to be kind about Lee. I have nothing against the guy personally and I don't think he is a bottom rate actor, but he looks so out of place in this type of role. And i couldn't quite figure out his outfit which looked like a hodgepodge of historical costume anachronisms. His helmet and facial guard looked like a cheaply designed helm of a Roman legionnaire. His face mask looked more like a Lone ranger eye mask. The rest of his outfit looked like a poorly tailored S&M fetish outfit.
And don't forget that ex-NFL Lineman, Deacon Jones, has a non- speaking role as the Black Viking who was enslaved by the Norsemen during a raid on the African Coast. Alright, I understand that the vikings did at one time venture by the coast of Africa, followed by the Roman victory over the Vikings and Visigoths, but the likelihood is highly improbable. I guess it was part of the 1970's social equanimity conscious that influenced this film to incorporate a Black actor.
The rest of the cast doesn't bode too well either. The Native Indians are shown as screeching savages. The Viking hoard are adorned with their goofy furs, Horned helmets ( I heard this was inaccurate) and swords. Susie Coehlle offers some eye candy as a young Native woman who befriends the Norsemen to help them find their captive family members.
After reading the reviews i was hoping to discover that if the movie is so universally perceived as crappy then it must be worth laughing at. But it wasn't for me. It was just boring and nauseating to the point that I wanted everyone, especially the Norsemen players, to be slain by the Indians.
Welcome Back, Kotter (1975)
As bad as it was, it still holds a reserve in my memory.
WBC was one of those 70's shows that was only viewed by my siblings and I when there was nothing better on. There are many things to loathe about this show: Corny jokes, slow moving plot, tiresome characters and a very drab inner city school backdrop that looked like your typical living nightmare for any teacher. School sucks enough as it is, so why would anyone want to subject themselves to watching it on TV for entertainment? I understand that comedy is often rooted in pain and that is where we derive comedy in general. But Welcome Back, Kotter brings the expression "Painful to watch" in a whole new level. It was also very negative in how it treated people. We weren't watching anything realistic here, just a very contrived and sophomoric representation of reality. And the results are uninspiring.
I will say that it is memorable for a couple of reasons. First, it catapulted the career of John Travolta. Gabe Kaplan was a likable guy who seemed to skate through this depiction of a high school teacher who has good intentions while having a bug to be an amateur comedian. Some people harshly criticize the fifth Sweathog from the south during the final season. I actually thought he brought some fun originality to this progressively stale and weary Motley Crew.
But where I derive meaning from this lousy program was the message in the theme song. The idea of a man returning to his Alma Mater as a teacher is both depressing yet endearing. The hopeless feeling one gets when they abandoned their dreams only to be annoyed and aggravated by an unpleasant and immature group of punks is not really a great recipe for fun.
Saturn 3 (1980)
Farrah was the only draw for this clunker.
Saturn 3 is one of those lousy science Fiction movies from the late 70's that deserves to be ridiculed. Unfortunately, it wasn't bad enough to be featured on SNL, but definitely not good enough to be remembered. Somewhere in the remote future a Human inhabited spacecraft, Saturn 3, is occupied by the stunning Alex(Farrah Fawcett) and her pre- geriatric lover, Major Adam (Kirk Douglas). They are visited by an anal technocrat from Earth (The Captain) played by Harvey Kietel. He is proposing to construct a high tech robot for research and to serve as an assistant for his new home. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned. The Captian is taken by Alex's ethereal beauty. He wishes to severe the tie she has with the aging Kirk Douglas to have her for his own. His method? To live vicariously through the robot (Hector) in order to overtake Adam's position as lover.
Now I know the appeal of beautiful woman can be a plot driven device if used tastefully and if it doesn't dominate the overall theme. But this seems to be the only thing going on here beside the development and fine tuning of the poorly constructed robot. Now I thought the robot was pretty cool looking and reminded me of a more fragile version of The Terminator. But Hector, albeit striking in appearance, is poorly designed with all of its loosely fitted wires, exposed valves and hollow frame. He could have used a more sturdy core to withstand blows. Modern Sci-Fi movies take the attractive woman's beauty as incidental and give the poor gals a bit more brains, substance, authority and toughness. But Farrah was just being used for eye candy while she titillated us with her sexy pouts, lilting voice, gorgeous figure and dazzling eyes. Harvey Keitel is wasted in this role where he plays against type. Here he chooses to use an uptight voice and speech pattern which sounds more robotic than military. And Kirk Douglas? Okay, I don't really have anything personal against the guy, but watching him cast with a woman thirty years his junior is both disheartening and fairly grotesque. Much like his son, he was the kind of actor I felt I had to put up with when watching a movie rather than ever truly enjoying or liking him. Saturn 3 is a snooze fest. But that's not to say that I completely hate it. It boasts some pretty cool production qualities and some admirably constructed set designs. This movie could have done better if they made a porno where Farrah gets accosted by some Technocrat or alien. It's that bad
Silent Running (1972)
Memorable, but far from prophetic
In the not so distant future Planet Earth has been virtually denuded due to industrialization, technology and over-population. A task force of several Astronauts and three robots are sent out into space to man several giant cargo ships containing Greenhouses stored in biospheres. Lowell Freeman (Bruce Dern), is among the four crewman, and apparently, the oddball who wants to preserve these habitats in the hopes of returning them to Earth to restore the now deforested and sterile planet.
I recall seeing this film many years ago as a child. Of course the message was over my head, but the humanity and touching moments of the waddling robots. Interestingly, the movie serves much better as an allegory on the human condition rather than a campaign for Environmentalist concerns. Silent Running fails mainly from its primary theme in that there are questions that aren't reasonably addressed: why was it necessary to launch these nature pods into space anyway? why couldn't the US government form a biosphere on Earth? wouldn't it be more convenient and cost-efficient? Was this a precarious excuse to provide a premise for a Science Fiction film? Unfortunately, Silent Running falls flat on these crucial questions.Instead, the plot becomes a tour de force where our supposed hero goes berserk after receiving the disappointing news of getting orders to destroy the pods. Sure, we understand this guy is an Eco-fascist who has a soft spot for nature, but the guy goes homicidal. Thus, ruining any empathy. His actions are problematic and so his his rationale for carrying them out. This is the only Sci-Fi movie I know of where the protagonist is a raving lunatic and the villains are regular guys who just want to finish their job and return home. But we must consider this movie as a relic of its time. The Hippie era in the early 70's had reached its status quo and concerns such as these were in their seminal stages. Forty Five years later, with all of the lobbying for Natural wildlife preserves and Eco-Friendly progress, this movie seems pretty inconsequential for its own good. Scientists have learned that natural fauna and flora are essential to man's existence and our global concerns are much different now.
I thought the acting of Bruce Dern was over the top. He is too weird and frantic even in casual conversations among his few interactions with the fellow crew members. The implausible drama is what turned me off the most with Silent Running. The special effects are pretty good for 1971 although the outer view of the ships look very fake by today's cinema technology.
But the overall message of humanity is what strikes a chord with me the most. The Environmental message is merely incidental. The main character's pathos from Nature loving zealot to maniacal killer to remorseful loner is what's most tragic. When we are driven by our ideals to the point of alienation, isolation and estrangement, we realize that it's human contact that mattered most to us. Lowell's personal journey was a lesson in and of itself. The final scene where the only remaining survivor (Dewey) the drone) tending his forest is both beautiful and touching.
From Elvira to Youtube
I vaguely remembered this movie from watching Elvira ( Mistress of the Dark) back in the early 80's. So this movie must have been categorized as a low-budget amateur production for being featured as a relic on Elvira. But it did strike a chord with me since I remember the creepy villain, Lemora, and her prurient obsession with this nubile girl. Perhaps it was the sexual innuendo that drew my attention. But I was only a teenager at the time so I was undergoing the early stages of my sexual awakening and couldn't form my thoughts about this theme.
Fast-forward 30 plus years later and I notice this movie on Youtube under some 1970's Horror video of some sort. It was then I had to watch this movie to satisfy that vague memory that left me latently curious. I have to say that the overall idea of the Vampire lesbian was enticing. The atmosphere, as noted numerous times by other reviewers, is remarkable considering the production's meagre budget. But the plot has a couple of problems that don't follow through with the initial setting. The gangster fugitive never gets resolved. It only serves as a premise to lead our nubile character, Lila Lee, into an inexplicable and random world of evil and witchcraft. The zombie characters that roam the forest and attack readily are unclear to me. Are they helpers of the Vampire Lemora or are they just wandering mutants to serve as haunting background? I understand that this is a morality tale that shows how the holy are tempted into sin and that evil can ruin anyone's salvation, but the meandering pace and deliberate tempo seemed to drag.
The standout of the film is the presence and performance of Lesley Taplin, Lemora. She has a truly unnerving and frightening presence. Her skeletal features, deep-set eyes and black coif are enough to affect the most unshakable viewers. Watching her overpower and seduce the fragile Lila is curiously sinister and uncanny. Her purpose is to make this young and angelic girl her bitch and transform her into one of her everlasting victims. The set designs, lighting and camera angles are quite effective as well. The sound effects are horrifying and chilling, if not a bit over the top. Cheryl Smith's performance is adequate if not totally bland. But she is too pale and thin to pass off as some sexually enticing dish. Sorry, but this was a miscast.
The finale was just a ridiculous mess. It simply didn't work. Watching those vampires, dawned in black cloaks and brim hats, bounding over church goers in slow motion didn't make sense on a logical or even a symbolic level.
The Exterminator (1980)
Gruesome, ugly and pointless!
Some movies earn their reputation on 'Shock-Value' alone. After reading other reviews it seems there is a fairly broad range of tastes and cultural sophistication among the reviewers that range from sadistically deranged to seemingly emotionally balanced.I vaguely remember this movie when it was released. I was 12 and I don't recall anyone talking about it. So I suppose it was box-office flop. Outside of its shocking violence the movie is about as uninspiring, cheesy, clumsy and repugnant as one could find. Honestly, the production values are as cut-rate as one would find in an average porn film.
The Exterminator shamelessly rips off the Vigilante tale, undoubtedly, from Death Wish, a better movie. But it doesn't even have the quality acting, believable script or production values of Death Wish. It is simply a moronic tale of an urban nobody who avenges the death of his friend. Then inexplicably, without any noticeable character development, emotional range or dramatic arc, the lead actor, Robert Ginty, goes on a maniacal rampage to become a homicidal maniac who exceeds the carnage of the thugs he chooses to target. There are several torture scenes that are not only implausible in nature and nuance, but seem to just grade against the monotone plot. There are a series of slow plot developments that occur only through coincidence that are punctuated by brutal torture and offings. A couple of the acts committed by the protagonist are so hideous that they are actually more heinous than any deed committed by the thugs or creeps depicted in the film. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, because the movie is not sophisticated enough to distinguish due justice or a senseless rampage. The only hope for this movie's theme is if we engage in the idea that violence begets violence and its bloody consequences. But the film doesn't even achieve that level of social consciousness. And therefore is nothing more than gratuitous and cinematic crud. It just plays out like a messy series of sketches that illustrate some Right-wing fantasy of ridding criminals. I guess this film was hoping to bank on the American public's cry for justice during a time when America was plagued with urban blight during the Carter administration and its ineffective and lenient judicial system.
Typically, the movie is also a timepiece of its own era (Late 70's and early 80's) with laughably bad hairstyles. The acting is pretty bad in parts. Christopher George, as the lead detective, is too incompetent and lethargic as a worthy nemesis to the vigilante villain. Robert Ginty is strangely bland and he's an odd choice for an anti-hero. He just seems very unfit and unconvincing in this kind of role. The thugs, perpetrators, pedophiles and mobsters in the milieu are about as menacing as an elementary school faculty. Characters are so hopelessly unbelievable in acting and presence that I'm certain they were paid very low salaries. This production also has a considerable amount of one-time actors where this was their only big-screen gig. After watching this abominable piece of celluloid it comes to no surprise. The problems with this movie are so abundant that to bother mentioning all of them would take too much space. The opening and closing ballad is also execrable.