Reads: Gyo

Gyo by Junji Ito, Publication Run 2001-2002, 390 pages approx

So the second book I’m going to talk about is the Viz collection of Gyo by horror mangaka Junji Ito. Junji Ito is one of the best known horror manga artists. I have his classics Tomie and Uzumaki and both are twisted, crazy works. I also have another of his books on my TO READ LATER pile.

Gyo is the story of rotting sea life coming onto land with organic metal legs. The ensuing terror that grips the world as the reader follows Tadashi and Kaori. We start with them at the first location this starts and watch what happens as the world is engulfed. Its pretty light on story and characterization to be honest. There is a lot about gas and smell. The story does seek to explain what goes on in vague retro science fiction type of way. As for characters Kaori is very annoying and Tadashi’s uncle is an a-hole but there’s little else running through. Tadashi seems like an alright dude but he does get annoying at times.

The thing about Junji ito is that his work is really the experience. It’s insane and unique approach to body horror. Gyo is a a quick read with so many crazy images. Its a visual marvel for anyone into horror. The scene with the great white shirt with legs is something I kind of like to see a Hollywood studio try. in fact the story is so bare bones a good horror script writer could make some real magic here. With the right director, could be a horror masterpiece. But its Hollywood so… And then I’m sure they would go with a happy ending. Ito’s works don’t have happy endings. They just sort of end in despair. Though this one did have a brief suggestion of hope for the future but the stories personalized to Tadashi, and to a point Kaori, so the story has to end with them.

The Viz collection I have has two bonus stories. The first a short of little substance but the second one! The Enigma of Amigara Fault is the major source of inspiration for Steven Universe’s Kindergarten. If you’re familiar with SU, you know Kindergarten is where gems grew other gems. Body shape holds in stone mountains where gems popped out. That’s dark for that show, here its down right horrifying. A discovery has people all around the world visiting this strange phenomenon and the ones most entranced, finding what hey believe to be their own hole. If I had never watched Steven Universe I’d still want to talk about this story.

If you like horror, specifically body horror and strange horror, this is for you. Of course, Uzumaki and Tomie are superior to Gyo. But I say check them all out.

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31 Days of Film: Final Days

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

May 28th-The Time Machine from 1960 (Director: George Pal, Writers: David Duncan Based on The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, Stars: Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, and Alan Young, Runtime: 103 mins)

The story about making a time machine, going into the future, and meeting the morlocks. Really its rather simple film. The stop motion animation for time changing was pretty cool. I honestly watched this, forgot about it until I wrote this little entry. It was fine, no negative feelings but no strong feelings in favor of the movie.

[Trailer]

May 29th-The Day The Earth Stood Still from Year (Director: Robert Wise, Writers: Edmund H. North, based on the 1940 science fiction short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates, Stars: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Billy Gray, Hugh Marlowe, and Sam Jaffe, Runtime: 92 mins)

The classic scifi film was good. A story about a strange visitor who wants to warn the Eart about bringing their aggression beyond their own world because most the planets in space are at peace. I don’t have a whole lot to say, because at this point I’m winding down and ind looking forward to not watching a film everyday. I like doing these in order to watch movies but I get burnt out. Anyway, Michael Rennie gives a great performance. I enjoyed everyone in it. I thought it ending with the threat was a great send off. It feels like a big film in a small scale which sometimes is hard to do but director Robert Wise is a legend. Him (and the team) bring a lot of style and mood to the picture. Its a very strong film.

[Trailer]

May 30th-The Funhouse from 1981 (Director: Tobe Hooper, Writers: Larry Block, Stars: Elizabeth Berridge, Kevin Conway, William Finley, Cooper Huckabee, Miles Chapin, and Sylvia Miles, Runtime: 96 mins)

Tobe Hooper is one of the most important influences on horror thanks to Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist*. But lets be honest, his work isn’t really all that good out his hits. This is the second or third of his movies outside his major hits that I’ve seen and its boring. It started with some style, a combination of Psycho and Halloween as a major fake out. Set the film on the path. Then got boring and annoying. The characters were stupid and not all that interesting. The killer was pretty bad. I give it credit for trying to create mood and the setting is neat, but overall its a waste of time.

*Steven Spielberg probably directed Poltergeist with Tobe only doing parts and assisting.

[Trailer]

May 31st-Tragedy Girls from 2017 (Director: Tyler MacIntyre, Writers: Chris Lee Hill and Tyler MacIntyre, Stars: Alexandra Shipp, Brianna Hildebrand, Josh Hutcherson, Craig Robinson, Kevin Durand and Jack Quaid, Runtime: 96 mins)

The story of two girls girls who run a true crime blog, kidnap a serial killer, and then start executing crimes themselves. This film is about friendship. How important it is to find people we relate to. Just so happens both ladies are psycho. Obsessed with themselves and clicks on their blog. The murders are pretty cool, the film has a slick look and appropriately timed music. The actresses Brianna and Alexandra are cute together and have lots of energy. The film starts to track into predictability territory but then swerves out of it toward the end. Good flick to end this week on. If you like slashers and black comedies you’ll enjoy this.

[Trailer]

Ranking
White Heat
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
Klute
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance
Deadpool 2
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Clue
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx
Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
Tragedy Girls
Peeping Tom
Destry Rides Again
The Way of the Dragon
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Vanishing Point
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
La Belle et la Bête
The Lair of the White Worm
Towering Inferno
The Time Machine
Jason and the Argonauts
Game Over, Man
Bullitt
Dark Passage
Razorback
My Bloody Valentine
Dreamscape
The Funhouse
A Boy and His Dog
Slither

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31 Days of Film: Week 4

Now that I’ve broken up the stream of articles, time to start linking the previous weeks.
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

May 21st-Peeping Tom from 1960 (Director: Michael Powell, Writers: Leo Marks, Stars: Carl Boehm, Anna Massey, and Moira Shearer, Runtime: 101 mins)

Last year I embraced podcasts. I listened to a few wrestling related ones but I jumped into all sorts. one of my favorites is Faculty of Horror. Two woman discussing horror films academically. After getting caught up (and along the way watching horror films new to me and rewatching ones I may have not cared for) I started doing my “homework.” Which is to watch films before the newest episodes. The next one up (which might be out by the time this is published) is focused on proto-slashers Peeping Tom and Psycho. As I write this I’m “rewatching” Psycho. Seen it a bunch of times so I don’t really need to pay attention. Peeping Tom, however, is a new one for me.

The story of a damaged man who works in film and as a photographer, he always has a camera with him. He begins a small killing spree, filming his victims. The film works on themes of child abuse, voyeurism, and more. Its a film that I think could’ve have been better. It looks great and the performance by Carl Boehm. The Austrian-German actor is incredible in this film. The way he moves, talks, and everything. He’s creepy but also comes off as vulnerable. Its fascinating that this performance, and Anthony Perkins Norman Bates happened in the same year. Yep, Peeping To not only shares the same film year as Psycho but came out first! Still, Psycho is a better structured, paced, and suspenseful film. Peeping Tom is a strong movie with an odd pacing and a few moments that make you scratch your head. I enjoyed this one and was glad to watch it.

(On the podcast I learned that the film ran only five days before being pulled and it killed the directors career. The film survived thanks to Martin Scorcese. I then read Scorcese and other fans of director Powell found an intact print, restored it, and rereleased the film in 79. Its now regarded as a classic.)

[Trailer]

May 22-Razorback from 1984 (Director: Russell Mulcahy, Writers: Everett De Roche, based on Peter Brennan’s novel, Stars: Gregory Harrison, Runtime: 95 mins)

Sometimes you see a horror film with s much potential that falters. Razorback is hat kind of film. From the director of Highlander is a pretty looking film with several great sequences bogged down by horrible pacing and not focusing enough on the most interesting character in the film. Basically the first third is pretty spot on and then the wheels come off and it becomes kind of boring. Anyway a grandfather loses his grandson to a Razorback. He gets the co-star treatment to another character who is less interesting. The Razor back is kind of cool, best in limited shots. There’s a bunch of asshole kangeroo hunters. Yeah… started strong, went disappointing.

[Trailer]

May 23rd-My Bloody Valentine from 1981 (Director: George Mihalka, Writers: John Beaird, Stars: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, and Neil Affleck, Runtime: 90 mins)

Maybe I just wasn’t in the head space for an early 80s slasher. This classic of the genre did nothing for me, mainly because I didn’t care for most the cast. I think slashers suffer when you don’t put an interesting woman in the lead. Or you don’t do more with the cop/authority figure. John Saxon in the first Elm Street or Black Christmas to even Leslie Nielsen in Prom Night. The setting is good, the story is weak.

[Trailer]

May 24th-Destry Rides Again from 1939 (Director: George Marshall, Writers: Felix Jackson with Screenplay by Henry Myers and Gertrude Purcell and Based on the 1930 novel by Max Brand, Stars: Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart, Runtime: 95 mins)

There’s trouble in Bottleneck, the new sheriff looks for help from Tom Destry to clean it up. A mix of comedy and pure drama, its a fun cowboy movie. Haven’t seen too many James Stewart movies and no Marlene Dietrich films so this had to be seen. Also, shout out to my uncle Mike who suggested it. I brought up how I checked TCM on Marlene Deitrich’s birthday earlier this year and they did not show a single of her movies. Anyway, I don’t have much to say about this film but that it was entertaining and short. Which was nice. Just over 90 minutes. More films should be under 100 minutes.

[Trailer]

May 25th-A Boy and His Dog from 1975 (Director: L. Q. Jones, Writers: L. Q. Jones and Alvy Moore (uncredited) Based on the novella by Harlan Ellison, Stars: Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Ron Feinberg, and Jason Robards, Runtime: 90 mins)

Post-apocalyptic story of a teenage boy looking for food and sex, his telepathic dog that helps him forage. Its a cult classic based on a classic scifi story. I did not care for the movie. It was just… I don’t know… I’ve watched worse films this month but this one somehow just really annoyed me. I don’t want to talk about it.

[Trailer]

May 26th-The Lair of the White Worm from 1988 (Director: Ken Russell, Writers: Ken Russell Based on the novel by Bram Stoker, Stars: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg, Peter Capaldi and Sammi Davis, Runtime: 93 mins)

Hey kids, want to see a young Hugh Grant and a twenty-something Dr. Who battle a snake woman? So this film is based loosely on a Bram Stoker novel but, like, who knew Bram wrote anything other than Dracula? Apparently the book is bad and the abridged, rewritten version is also bad. So a guy digs up a skull and a crazy religious mosaic art piece on a farm where these two sisters live. One of their neighbors is a rich dude who lives in a castle whose family may have fought a giant evil snake. There’s also an immortal snake priestess. This is not a good movie but the performances, specifically Amanda Donohoe, are fun. Plus its just the right amount of over the top ridiculousness to save it from being just bad. This is fun bad. Shave off about seven minutes and it would have been even better. The ending was pretty cool. I liked it.

[Trailer]

May 27th-Vanishing Point from 1971 (Director: Richard C. Sarafian, Writers: Guillermo Cain and Barry Hall (uncredited), Stars: Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, and Dean Jagger, Runtime: 98 mins)

1970’s were a time of famous car races, chases, and crashes. 1971 gave the race film Vanishing Point. the story is so thin you can miss it if you don’t pay attention. But its really a set up about a man who only finds joy on the open road. Running from troubles and frustrations of the past and the working class life. The cops in each state and city are trying to stop him. This film is very style and enjoyable. Barry is very subtle, low key in his performance. Cleavon Little, pre-Blazing Saddles, has a very fascinating part as a radio DJ “speaking” to our driver. Very counter-culture elements throughout. There is a remake with a libertarian bent, sounds like they added a lot to the story and character and changed the DJ’s role. Also removing all the counter-culture elements and the seedier parts. Sounds like a bunch of bullshit. Anyway, this is a classic and I liked it. Me and my uncle then watched countdowns of famous car chases in each decade from the 70s to the 00s. Good times.

[Trailer]

Ranking
White Heat
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
Klute
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance
Deadpool 2
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Clue
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx
Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
Peeping Tom
Destry Rides Again
The Way of the Dragon
Vanishing Point
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
La Belle et la Bête
The Lair of the White Worm
Towering Inferno
Jason and the Argonauts
Game Over, Man
Bullitt
Dark Passage
Razorback
My Bloody Valentine
Dreamscape
A Boy and His Dog
Slither

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Reads: Snow Crash

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Publication in June 1992, 480 Pages

Had a resolution to read more and after a few false starts I got one done. Snow Crash, took me several weeks…

Snow Crash is a cyberpunk (words never used) story set in a dystopian landscape. Based around anarcho-capitalism (I guess) so you have the federal government ceding lands to franchises run by the mafia or others. The lead is a sword wielding, pizza delivery driver, and hacker named Hiro Protagonist. On a failed delivery he meets kourier (thats how its spelled) and extreme skater Y.T. They become associates gathering and selling intel for the CIC. They find themselves dealing with a new drug called Snow Crash and an Aleut badass killer named Raven. All this ties to a corporate executive name L. Bob Rife.

Okay… apparently this book is on TIME’S 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. I don’t know. I don’t read enough so-called classics to really have an opinion on if I think it is one of the top 100 novels. I finished it, and since I have a habit of getting bored quickly or easily distracted that’s good. But I don’t really even know how I feel. Writing this review is making me scratch me my head. I like that the lead is a mixed race man, and Hiro is a pretty cool guy. Even if I don’t understand why such a clearly intelligent and talented hacker isn’t making good money. Y.T. is amusing. The teenage kourier is a lot of fun and I dig her attitude. Though there is a scene that made me roll my eyes and skip a paragraph or two. But then again I’m a bad reader and have habit of missing (or not absorbing) lines. The actual drug Snow Crash is a virus that attacks hackers. So there is a lot about linguistics, religion, archeology and more. There’s some incredibly fascinating stuff in there and sometimes it bored me. The metaverse (you know, 3D cyberspace fun) has some interesting stuff going. I like the scenes in the Black Sun.

What I don’t care for is the setting. Is this the future libertarians want? Doesn’t sound good to me. Most people are either poor or middle class people who are over worked tools. Then there is the rich who may or may not be corrupt assholes. Depends on who and really, its all about protecting their franchises/businesses. But hey! You don’t pay income tax and the federal government is letting you deal with protecting yourself. Of course that just means more assholes in the world, including security forces hired by whatever franchise is control of whatever piece of land. Hope you got money for a good bribe. Its all trading problems for problems. I actually did look into libertarian scifi and what I learned is any story that shows a hint of those values is loved and rewarded. Even if that was not the point and/or written by people who clearly do not identify as libertarian. Really fascinating stuff. Made me rethink Robert Heinlein’s Moon is a Harsh Mistress for a minute which is apparently one of the most beloved libertarian science fiction stories. Though that book was written in the 60s so before contemporary libertarianism and Heinlein himself probably leaned more libertarian-socialism (due to his work for the campaign of socialist writer Upton Sinclair). Heinlein is a good writer and Red Planet is a great YA read.

Also, a lot of these hard science fiction stories present free market and more personal freedoms in a dire future where the people (most of which poor, poor working class) rely on big corporations for survival even though many are violent and corrupt entities. Where as a lot of Utopian based science fiction presents some idealistic place where people are happy but there is secretly an evil Authoritarian entity lying underneath ready to destroy. Geez…

So what about the story itself? It moves. Things happen. Most of it I like, some of it I shrugged. Never actually boring. Though I am a terrible reader so it took longer than it should, which means I did not have the urge to ‘plow through it.’ It was good. I kind of liked it. Might watch the Amazon adaptation if it gets made (Ha! Adaptations of this die in development). Glad I am done and will be taking a manga break.

Might actually do an update on that.

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31 Days of Film: Week 3

Time to finish the Lone Wolf and Cub films and then move on to some other films.

May 14th-Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons from 1973 (Director: Kenji Misumi, Writers: Screenplay by Kazuo Koike and Tsutomu Nakamura Based on the manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Stars: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Michio Yasuda, Akihiro Tomikawa and Shingo Yamashiro, Runtime: 89 mins)

My least favorite of the films. While it still looks and the action is great, this one just ever clicked. Why is Lord Retsuko still alive? I thought he died? Maybe I looked at my twitter when he escaped? Also each film has simple stories and this one might be the thinnest of them. the first fifteen minutes is him proving he’s a good killer by killing a bunch of dudes sent to see if he’s worth hiring. Each guy is part of the same clan. There’s this whole segment with a pickpocket that is good but doesn’t really need to be in the film other than to give something more to do. Then you get the unfortunate child nudity. It’s an okay film, and its still under 90 minutes (just barely).

[Trailer]

May 15th-Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell from 1974 (Director: Yoshiyuki Kuroda, Writers: Tsutomu Nakamura Based on The manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Stars: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Junko Hitomi and Goro Mutsumi, Runtime: 84 mins)

The final of the Lone Wolf and Cub films is one of only two films not directed by Kenji Misumi. Its also the only film where series co-creator Kazuo Koike was not involved in the screenplay. So the film has the Yagyu Clan and Lord Retsuko going all in on killing Ogami. First by sending his children, then by sending everyone. This film is more over the top then the others. The ninjas hiding in stone walls and assassins on ice skis. The last action scene tries to top the third film and while not as clever or cool the snow setting is beautiful. Look, not in the top 3 of these films, but better than the fifth film by a mile. The biggest downside is the film seemed to believe there would be a seventh film so it doesn’t tie up the series leaving the series villain running. Still, I am glad I watched all these films. This was a fucking cool series.

[Trailer]

May 16th-Jason and the Argonauts from 1963 (Director: Don Chaffey, Writers: Beverley Cross and Jan Read Based on The Argonautica 3rd century BC by Apollonius Rhodius, Stars: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Honor Blackman, and Gary Raymond, Runtime: 101 mins)

The story of the quest of Jason, rightful king of Thessaly to obtain the golden fleece. Along the way battling Telos, a hydra, skeleton soldiers and surviving dangers of the sea. All while the gods watch. This is an old school fantasy film with stop motion effects so you’re interest may vary. I thought it was alright but I may not have been in right frame of mind. Tired (and maybe a little sick?) when I was watching the flick. The skeleton fighters looked cool, I thought Honor Blackman was amusing as Hera, and Telos had a neat design. It was fine.

[Trailer]

May 17th-Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 from 2000 (Director: Joe Berlinger, Writers: Dick Beebe and Joe Berlinger, Stars: Jeffrey Donovan, Stephen Barker Turner, Kim Director, Erica Leerhsen and Tristine Skyler, Runtime: 90 mins)

Better than the original film-fight me! But seriously the only thing I like about Blair Witch was the marketing and the excellent Curse of the Blair Witch, which was a fictional documentary about the original film which was, of course, designed to appear to be a documentary when it was just an actual film. This movie is a bit cheesy with the way its cut and shot but the general idea of possession vs mass hysteria works cause the cast. The five work well together and everything seems to flow well. Its an easy watch, thats pretty fun. It was also the best palette cleanser after several older films.

[Trailer]

May 18th-Dreamscape from 1984 (Director: Joseph Ruben, Writers: Screenplay by David Loughery, Chuck Russell and Joseph Ruben Story by David Loughery, Stars: Dennis Quaid, Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer, Runtime: 99 mins)

Months before the horror classic Nightmare on Elm Street dropped came Dreamscape. With three times the budget it would somehow look cheaper then Elm Street. The acting’s fine. The story tries to be fancy, a scifi story about scientist working with psychics to help patients with severe nightmares. However a shady government type wants to use the technology as a weapon. The story is pretty weak. This was an “eh” type of film all the way through. Watch a Nightmare on Elm Street film instead. Like the third movie, which was co-written and directed by one of this films co-writers.

[Trailer]

May 19th-Slither from 2006 (Director/Writer: James Gunn, Stars: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, and Michael Rooker, Runtime: 95 mins)

The story about alien slugs turning people into hungry zombies. I think. I didn’t quite understand (or care) about what they wanted. Good cast. Not feeling it.

[Trailer]

May 20th-Deadpool 2 from 2018 (Director: David Leitch, Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds, Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, and Jack Kesy, Runtime: 119 mins)

I waited to see it with my brother who was going with his friends. Normally I’d have hit it up Saturday morning at the latest. So Deadpool is motivated to protect a kid from the time traveling Cable. In the process lots of crazy stuff goes on and everything is a spoiler. Truth be told, the first film was probably better. However this film is more imaginative and absolutely bonkers. So about even I guess. The cameos, twists, action and dialogue was top notch. Zazzie Beetz and Josh Brolin were perfect foils for Deadpool. There was some great laughs, some that did not land, most were in the middle making me smile. Comedy, and R-rated entries, are good for the superhero genre. Superheroes generally cross different genres. Batman-=crime, Superman=scifi, Iron Man=harder science fiction, Wonder Woman=fantasy/adventure. Overall, if you liked the first one you’ll probably like this one. If not, then skip this one. Also, Celine Dion has to get an original song nomination, right?

[Trailer]

Ranking
White Heat
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
Klute
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance
Deadpool 2
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Clue
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx
Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
The Way of the Dragon
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
La Belle et la Bête
Towering Inferno
Jason and the Argonauts
Game Over, Man
Bullitt
Dark Passage
Dreamscape
Slither

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31 Days of Film: Week 2

Week 2, hopefully will be more eventful then week one.

May 7th-Towering Inferno from 1974 (Director: John Guillermin, Writers: Stirling Silliphant from a pair of novels, The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson, Stars: Steve McQueen and Paul Newman Lead All-Star Ensemble, Runtime: 165 mins)

A new super business/residential tower opens. However the owners cheapskate son-in-law took shortcuts on electrical wiring. So bad shot goes down the night of a party. Cue the deaths and struggles for survival. Look, the acting was on point and the effects were pretty damn good. But damn this was long. I liked Poseidon Adventure better. This is the first film I’ve watched with legendary Jennifer Jones, and probably several other actors.

[Trailer]

May 8th-La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) from 1946 (Director: Jean Cocteau, Writers: Screenplay by Jean Cocteau Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, Stars: Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais as the Beast, Runtime: 93 mins)

During the planning of this month I checked out a new podcast called Tales. It did a 5-parter on Beauty and the Beast, specifically Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve version which features deeper backgrounds on Beast and Beauty and more magic. It was darker and more convoluted then the classic Disney interpretation. This actually got me curious about checking out this French film which had heard of. Poet, playwright, director’s take on the film feels like a stage play. Its not too elaborate but with enough lavish touches to feel unique, stunning and appropriately weird. I was actually impressed with the Beast’s look. Though not as horrifying as the original work, I’m assuming the abridged/edited version this is based on cleaned him up to look more like a regal beast. Both he and Beauty actually are pretty good together. What did carry over from Villeneuve’s original to Beaumonts version (to some degree) was Belle’s family being more than her father. She has multiple siblings in the stories, though Villeneuve’s complicates Belle’s upbringing but we don’t need to talk about that. I just like that Belle has terrible sisters. This movie, where there are only two, makes them part of a group of antagonists. Along with her brother and Belle’s suitor, Avenant who try to rob the beast toward the end of the film. The ending is a strange bit, especially because actor Jean Marais plays Beast/Prince and Avenant.

Overall, I liked this film. But it did make an hour and half feel longer. Truthfully I suggest listening to the Tales episodes.

[Trailer]

May 9th-The Way of the Dragon from 1972 (Director/Writer/Star: Bruce Lee, Runtime: 100 mins)

Bruce Lee goes to Rome to help a restaurant against some guys who want the restaurant. The story doesn’t matter. Bruce Lee matters. He beats up people. Lee exudes charisma in every scene in a movie that really exists only for him to exhibit charisma. There’s some amusing scenes here and there. The airport restaurant scene, the Italian woman who sees Bruce and quickly takes him home. This one has the famous fight scene with Chuck Norris. So, yeah, okay flick.

[Trailer]

May 10th-Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance from 1972 (Director: Kenji Misumi, Writers: Kazuo Koike Based on manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Stars: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Fumio Watanabe and Shigeru Tsuyuguchi, Runtime: 87 mins)

The first of six classic samurai films based on the classic samurai manga. The first one gives you two stories-how he Ogami became Lone Wolf and him taking a job to stop corrupt officials for killing an official. I’m not going to go deep into either story and focus on the fact the film looks good. It has the right mix of 70s Japanese grindhouse splatter and quality cinematic photography. I like how a lot of the sound is drowned out in the fight scenes other than the sounds of the sword and death. The performance of the lead, Tomisaburo Wakayama, is good. Though he does not fit the visual I have of the character. I guess its the jawline. Maybe I just think of Toshiro Mifune when I see pages from the famed manga. Overall, one of the best films I’ve watched thus far.

[Trailer]

May 11th-Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx from 1972 (Director: Kenji Misumi, Writers: Kazuo Koike Based on manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Stars: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Kayo Matsuo and Akiji Kobayashi, Runtime: 85 mins)

Lone Wolf is hired to kill a clan to kill a turncoat who wanted to sell a secret indigo dye process. This man guard three deadly brothers. Also a clan of female assassins are hired to kill Ogami. Look, there’s a very thin story here but the performances are good, looks great, and action is well done. So if you like the first film, you’d probably like this one. It’s just not as strong as the first film. Which makes it weird that an American company used only twelve minutes of the first film and attached it to this t make Shogun Executioner film.

[Trailer]

May 12th-Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades from 1972 (Director: Kenji Misumi, Writers: Kazuo Koike Based on manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Stars: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Go Kato and Yuko Hama , Runtime: 89 mins)

This one is a little tough. It has a a couple rough scenes of violence towards women and drawn out ending. Other than that, the best of the first three films. Ogami decides to help a woman who kills a man who sold her to a whorehouse. After making a deal to accept the whorehosue’s punishment in exchange for her freedom, he squares away the murder charges by taking a payment to kill a governor. There’s another character in the story, a former samuari turned mercenary who is in an early, frustrating scene and he comes back later. I would’ve been fine without him. Anyway, the action in this one is crazy. That big action number is just awesome. I liked the two women who had small parts. Yuko Hama is really beautiful here. Anyway, best of the first three films as far as I’m concerned.

[Trailer]

May 13th-Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril from 1972 (Director: Buichi Saito, Kazuo Koike Based on manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Stars: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma and Akihiro Tomikawa Runtime: 81 mins)

The last of the 1972 Lone Wolf and Cub films. This time Ogami is hired to kill a woman. This woman has deserted the Owari clan and has been killing assassin after assassin, leading to shame on families. Along the way we run into a rival of Ogami, who competed with him for the Shogun executioner position. Also that asshole who had framed him and has been trying to have him killed. All this in 81 minutes! Its a good film with good to great action scenes. The stuff with O-Yuki, the woman he is hired to kill, is some good stuff. The way he treats her before and after the fight is excellent.

[Trailer]

Ranking
White Heat
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
Klute
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance
Clue
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx
The Way of the Dragon
La Belle et la Bête
Towering Inferno
Game Over, Man
Bullitt
Dark Passage

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31 Days of Film: Week One

Time to cut down my films list.

May 1st-Dark Passage from 1947 (Director: Delmar Daves, Writers: Delmar Daves Based on the Story by David Goodis, Stars: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Runtime: 106 mins)

Man framed for his wife’s murder breaks out of jail. A string of things happen next like trying to be a hitchhiker, meeting a woman captivated by his case, getting a new face, and more. Look, first film out and I didn’t care for it. I don’t care if its a classic. Some of what happened seemed to0 convenient. That said, the resolution to who murdered his wife was fascinating. Lauren Bacall was good. But I didn’t really care, so…

[Trailer]

May 2nd-Game Over, Man from 2018 (Director: Kyle Newacheck, Writer: Anders Holm, Stars: Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson, Runtime: 101 mins)

I was looking for a new Netflix show, ended up watching this film. So… Die Hard knock off. Amusing cameos. Some good laughs. A fun bad film. I really don’t have much to say other than they should have killed Shaggy. I hate that fucking song. Donald Faison should’ve lived. I would not recommend this unless you’re into stupid comedies or a stoner.

[Trailer]

May 3rd-White Heat from 1949 (Director: Raoul Walsh, Writers: Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts Based on the story by Virginia Kellogg, Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O’Brien, Margaret Wycherly and Steve Cochran, Runtime: 114 mins)

The first movie I genuinely liked. I liked Game Over, Man but its a bad film and I’d probably never watch it again. I picked White Heat because I had never seen a James Cagney movie and it was a noir film. Movie follows a notorious gang leader and the polices efforts to stop him. Its a pretty tense film and you’re waiting for things to go wrong for an undercover cop trying to get information out of Cagney’s character, Cody. The film’s ending is interesting in that it goes big for limited budget and resources. Not quite effective but a remake would see it go crazy. Not that I’d want a remake to this film, just that the third act is very good but if made today could be better with today’s big effects. Strong performances and good direction from a dude who played John Wilkes Booth in the infamous and racist Birth of a Nation. I’d recommend this for fans of old gangsta and noir films.

[Trailer]

May 4th-Clue from 1985 (Director: Jonathan Lynn, Writers: Jonathan Lynn and John Landis, Stars: Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren, Runtime: 97 mins)

The classic board game was turned into an 80s comedy cult classic. Clue is… Pretty good? I have seriously mixed feelings. I really liked the first third of the film and then with the introduction of Mr. Boddy and the reason why everyone was assembled, things get a little lackluster in the middle. At least for me. The ending gets better and I like the multiple outcomes. There’s some good jokes and some that feel like duds. The performances are mostly good. I think this was a dynamite cast. Overall though, mixed feelings. I could see this being the kind of movie I’d put on in the background. I mean, it has Tim Curry. That’s maybe reason enough for you to see it.

[Trailer]

May 5th-Bullit from 1968 (Director: Peter Yates, Writers: Alan R. Trustman and Harry Kleiner Based on Mute Witness by Robert L. Fish, Stars: Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, and Jacqueline Bisset, Runtime: 113 mins)

Ever watch a movie that you know is good but you still don’t seem to care. This is one for me. It’s technically good but maybe I wasn’t feeling up for this methodically paced film today. Steve McQueen was in charge of guarding a witness who gets shot and killed, know he’s digging deeper into why. A classic with a famous car chase-which was cool. The film is fine, I just didn’t care for it when I watched it. I did pick it to because of McQueen who was great. Very subtle in his expressions and mannerisms were master class. Still not enough for me to like it though.

[Trailer]

May 6th-Klute from 1971 (Director: Alan J. Pakula, Writers: Andy and Dave Lewis, Stars: Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, Runtime: 114 mins)

Six months after a family man goes missing, a family friend name John Klute goes looking for him. The only details they have are disturbing letters addressed to a call girl. This neo-noir mystery is well acted and looks great. A little slow at the start of the third act but overall a pretty good film. I really don’t got much to say other than that really. Okay, maybe this is my first Jane Fonda movie perhaps? I thought she was good and I can see why she won an Oscar. The first of two it appears. If you’re into noirs specifically neo-noirs, check this one out.

[Trailer]

Ranking
White Heat
Klute
Clue
Game Over, Man
Bullitt
Dark Passage

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