Friday, August 12, 2011

Clyde's Movie Palace: Brokeback Mountain (2005)


Brokeback Mountain

starring
Heath Ledger
Jake Gyllenhaal
Michelle Williams
Anne Hathaway

directed by
Ang Lee


One does not head out to see Brokeback Mountain without having a general idea of what the film is about. Unless you’ve had your head buried in a cocoon, you know that Brokeback Mountain is the Gay Cowboy Movie which has received one award after another as the best picture of 2005. Are the accolades more the result of its controversial subject matter or is it really that good? I can say unequivocally that Brokeback Mountain is far more than that. Yes, it is a love story, but it is also about the heartache, the heartbreak, the guilt and the shame forced upon those who through no fault of their own, love and cherish someone of their own gender and are unable to acknowledge their love openly and honestly because of the rigid codes forced upon them by society. It is in every aspect an excellent film.

A ranch hand, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) meets rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) while working as sheep herders in the mountains of Wyoming during the summer of 1963. During their time together they fall in love and have sex. Yet, it is a love that is never acknowledged between them as being such. It is as Ennis puts it, “a one-shot deal going on.”

“You know I ain't queer,” he tells Jack just to make sure he understands.

Jack’s reply, “Neither am I.”
One need to look no further then when Ennis tells the story of how his father took him to view the corpse of a gay man who was tortured in a way unfathomable and then beaten to death, to understand the consequences of not only being gay in 1963 but being discovered. It’s a story that casts a dark shadow over the rest of the film. Both men do what they can to fit in. They marry and have children. With Ennis, it is a way to prove that his summer on Brokeback was just a one shot deal, with Jack it is more a marriage of convenience and necessity.

It is under this dark and ominous cloud that these men must find a way to share their love, in whatever way possible and still try to fit into what society views as being normal Jack knows he is gay without admitting it. We experience their joy when they are together. We feel their loneliness when they are apart. When four years have passed since their summer on the mountain, Ennis anxiously awaits a first visit by Jack. He chain smokes and chugs on beer trying to stay calm, unable to hide his feelings. It is also the first time that his wife, Alma (Michelle Williams), begins to realize there is more to the relationship than meets the eye.
Ang Lee’s direction of this film is beyond reproach. It would have been tempting for some directors to exploit the subject matter and hammer us over the head with it. Lee keeps the focus on a very personal level, never letting the story get off target or go off on a wild tangent. He never strays from the personal aspect, and lets the rest of the story unfold around that.

The cast is as superb as the direction. I have seen Heath Ledger in several films, most of them instantly forgettable so I was totally unprepared and shocked by the depth of emotion he brings to Ennis here. And he does it not by being over the top, but with a great deal of subtlety and nuance. Ennis is a man of few words, but Ledger tells us everything we need to know about him without a tremendous amount of dialogue.

Gyllenhaal is every bit as good as Jack Twist. Unlike Ennis, Jack Twist is a man of many words, but he is also a man who never gives up on his dream of someday living the life he wants to, and sharing it with the person he loves the most.

In supporting roles, both Michelle Williams as Alma and Anne Hathaway as Jack’s wife Lureen are excellent also. We suspect that Lureen’s marriage to Jack is as much a marriage of convenience for her as it is for him. She doesn’t have much screen time, but she makes the most of it. If her roles in the straight to DVD film Havoc and Brokeback are any indication, her days of being thought of as the Princess in the Princess Diaries films will soon be forgotten. Regrettably, I had not seen any of Michelle Williams work before Brokeback but I wish I had. She is very deserving of her Academy Award nomination for her work here.

There will always be those who say that much of the recognition Brokeback is receiving has more to do with its subject matter than with the quality of the film itself. Nothing could be more wrong. Yes, the subject matter may be controversial to some, but the truth is there is there is no reason why it should be.

Although things have changed quite a bit since 1963 there are still way too many who fear gays as if they were the devil, the boogeyman, and should all carry the last name of Nasty as Alma calls Jack at one point. In the week before I saw Brokeback Mountain, a man walked into a gay bar in Massachusetts and began assaulting the patrons with a hatchet and a gun. In Roanoke Virginia five years ago, Ronald Edward Gay walked into the Backstreet Café and began shooting, simply because he wanted to kill homosexuals. Scotty Joe Weaver was tortured mercilessly, and then murdered just for being gay.

If the day ever comes, and whether or not it is in my lifetime, that a person can love someone of their own gender and walk through a mall, a parking lot, or an amusement park hand in hand without receiving so much as a glance, then Brokeback Mountain may no longer be controversial. But it’ll still be a great film, and when you’re a great film you know I have no choice but to give you an overwhelming A+.
(Clyde’s note:  As you know, Brokeback Mountain was nominated for Best Picture by the Motion Picture Academy.  It is my opinion to this day that it should have won that award over the contrived and ridiculously  manipulative Crash.  I wrote an article or two about that decision, which I will re-post at a later date.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

May I Have the Envelope Please: Angels in the Outfield, Move Over Darling, Mommie Dearest

Having finally dispensed with King Elvis, the newest batch of films to arrive from Netflix via US Mail are all radically different, but still worth watching for one reason or another.  It’s not that they are exceptionally great films.   They aren’t.   In fact, one of them was widely panned when released but is now considered classic camp and a cult favorite, but yet tarnished the actress playing the lead role forever.  And the other two have a bit of history to them themselves.
Angels in the Outfield

I know what you said when you saw this!  Oh, Danny Glover is in this Disney movie.  Wrong on both counts.  This is not a Disney Movie and Danny Glover was only five years old when this was made.  I find this film so much more pleasing than the Disney remake just because the premise doesn’t hammer you over the head with a two by four.  Think of it as Field of Dreams does Pittsburgh.

No California Angels team here either (they didn’t exist yet), as these angels decide they are going to make Coach “Guffy” McGovern walk the straight and narrow by appearing only to a little orphan girl when helping McGovern’s Pittsburgh Pirates.  If you’ve never seen Paul Douglas, he was a great character actor for years, also co-starring in another great baseball film, It Happens Every Spring with Ray Milland, where he played Milland’s catcher and goofy sidekick. 

Donna Corcoran plays Bridget, the Orphan girl who sees angels that nobody else can.  Corcoran is the sister of Noreen Corcoran who starred in the series Bachelor Father, and is also the sister of Kevin Corcoran who was Disney’s go to cute kid, Moochie, in the late fifties and early sixties. He starred in everything from Old Yeller to Toby Tyler to Spin and Marty and then his own Mickey Mouse Club Serial, Moochie of the Little League.  If you know her siblings, you’ll see the Cocoran resemblance.  She’s certainly a lot less obnoxious than the overbearing know-it-all kid in the Disney remake of this film.

A young and beautiful Janet Leigh is on hand as kind of a love interest/newspaper gal.   Don’t forget to check out the cameos mentioned on the envelope as well.  Where else can you swoon over both Ty Cobb and Bing Crosby?  And if you rent it, there’s a bonus short about Donkey Baseball and a Tom and Jerry cartoon.  Certainly worth a rental and I give it a score a pretty healthy B+.
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The history behind Move Over, Darling may be more interesting than the film itself.  This was supposed to be a film called Something’s Gotta Give, based on a 1940 film called My Favorite Wife  and was to star Marilyn Monroe and  Dean Martin.  In a dispute with 20th Century Fox over absences from the set, Monroe was fired.  Fox hired Lee Remick to replace her, but Martin refused to do the film without Marilyn.  Marilyn was eventually rehired by Fox, and for more money no less.  But she died of a drug overdoes before filming could resume.
 
Eventually it was reworked to more closely resemble the original film with James Garner and Doris Day replacing Monroe and Martin.  Garner and  Day have great chemistry as shown in their previous effort that year, The Thrill of it All.  Their scenes together are hilarious.

Not so Polly Bergen, who plays Nick’s new wife Bianca, and with a name like that you just know she’s going to be an annoying overbearing twat.  The character is half baked and overcooked, and she is such a polar opposite of Day’s Ellen, you have to wonder what in the hell Nick was thinking to hook up with  her in the first place.  I know variety is the spice of life, but you don’t drink arsenic because you’re bored with tea, do you?

Worse, the whole plot depends on everybody in the movie not telling the big secret, that being the fact that Ellen is alive, when the whole thing could be resolved rather easily if someone would just open their mouth and spill the beans.  The excuse given for not doing so is that it might be too traumatic for Ellen’s kids to suddenly find out she is still alive, that it has to be revealed with caring and understanding (about an hour and forty minutes later) but there’s no real reason for Nick not to tell Bianca.   Oh screw it, there’s no real reason they couldn’t have told the kids from the start either.

But as I said, Garner and Day’s scenes together help bring redemption,  and some really funny bits by Thelma Ritter, Edgar Buchanan, Don Knotts, and a hilarious all too brief appearance by Chuck Connors as the man who had been stranded on the island with Day can almost make you forget about Bianca and the idiotic plot premise.  But there’s not enough of everybody else, and way too much of Bianca Bonkers, which balances out to about a C-.  In case you’re wondering.  The disc also has some interesting trailers for other Day vehicles, and a segment entitled Doris vs. Marilyn.
Mommie Dearest

If you’ve never seen this film you’ve certainly heard about it.  When it was released, it was almost universally panned, and was awarded five Razzie Awards (Worst of the Year).  But Dunaway’s wild and crazy eye popping out of her sockets performance, some strangely ridiculous scenes of cruelty, and the fact that this was a  Joan Crawford tell all, has made the film a cult classic and a must see film for anybody.  Did the events really happen?  Later anecdotes from others including this one  suggest it probably is, as suggested by this trivia posting on the IMDB:
Little love was lost between costume designer Irene Sharaff and Faye Dunaway. "Yes, you may enter Miss Dunaway's dressing room," Sharaff once said, "but first you most throw a raw steak in - to divert her attention."
The film probably did as much damage to Dunaway’s career as Christina’s book inflicted on Joan Crawford’s legend.  I mean I still like watching Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Mildred Pierce, but her guest appearance on The Secret Storm playing her daughter’s role ruined that soap for me.  No, not really.   But this is a one of a kind film that you have to experience before you die.  And remember, “NO WIRE HANGERS”.  My rating is a B, put based almost entirely on camp value..

Road Trip: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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I’m always appreciative when I can go to the movies on a weekday.  It used to be something I would do regularly when I was working the night shift.  But it is something I can manage only  occasionally these days.  I would go at night during the week, but the 30 plus mile trip to Bakersfield after having worked all day, has never appealed to me much.  Not when you get to be my age.
 
I had another doctor’s appointment with my primary care provider today.  I try to make the appointments later in the day so I don’t have to miss work, but this was one of those times they called me wanting me to come in instead of the other way around.  More about that in another post though.
 
The appointment was at 11:00 AM, which meant it was too early to go to work for just two hours when you have to walk a half mile into your job and out.  Not to mention that  by the time I got finished, it would mean driving back to Wasco in the scorching heat with no air conditioning, something that pretty well drains me by the time I get back home just to walk into the job in the heat for about two hours work.  And, this being Honorable Son Number 3’s day off, I also  had company.  So the choice was pretty cut and dry.
 
Our destination was not the Reading Cinema that The Girlfriend and I had been to over the weekend.  Instead it was to be the Edwards Regal Cinema.  Part of this was due to the fact that I still had a gift card  given to me by Honorable Son No. 2 for Father’s Day.   (btw, the son  numbers are order of birth, and mean nothing else)
IMG_1045We left the Doctor’s office at 12 Noon, so we decided on the one o’clock showing, especially since Edwards was just a hop, skip, and a jump from where we were.  The Edwards is located off of Ming Avenue in Bakersfield and is part of a shopping center called The Marketplace.  I have never had a desire to do much shopping there, as the shops there strike me as being a bit upscale.  But there is a restaurant on the highway that we have been to more than a few times called Tahoe Joe’s.  Good food, but high prices.
 
Because of all that  I always park in the back.  It’s just as easier to park there then in the front lot.  For one thing, you are just as close if not closer to the theater.  And on this weekday, there wasn’t enough cars to fill a Used Car Lot.
 
IMG_1052To get to the front of the Edwards from our parking place  is a simple matter of walking to either side and going up a short walkway.  In front of the cinema is a large fountain.  On weekends, day or night you’ll see a crowd gathered around it or walking up and down through the shopping center.  On this day, there wasn’t more than a handful of people within sight.  I sent Honorable Son Number 3 up to get the tickets.  For a weekday matinee, they would be $7.50 each.  So I used $15 of my $25 dollar gift card.  I decided to use my bank card at the refreshment stand and save the other ten for the next movie.  I gave thought to seeing two movies on this day, something I might have done when I was younger.   But between bad legs, bad back, and bad eyesight, those days may have passed me by.
 
After Josh had gotten the tickets we still had some time to kill before the movie started.  So I snapped some quick pictures of the place with my phone to give a little flavor to this road trip and future trips instead of just leaving it to your imagination.  Future Road Trips to previous theater destinations will dispense with the travelogue crap.   You can get an idea of the layout of The Marketplace  right here.



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From the outside and outside only, this place always seems a bit classier than the Reading Cinema or the Maya Cinema which is located out on California Avenue.  But inside, the Maya has them both beat for comfort.  We decided to go ahead and get popcorn and diet sodas even though the popcorn would wreck my diet. But we both passed on the butter.   I also like the fact that they actually give you your popcorn in a bucket instead of some flimsy half assed bag like they do at The Valley Plaza Reading.  Ugh!


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As you can tell by comparing this to  my last road trip, we were in a much larger auditorium, and since the crowd was obvious going to be sparse, it certainly appeared this trip to the movies was going to be better than the one The Girlfriend and I had taken on Saturday.  I also prefer the Edwards because the pre-movie advertisements are  more interesting, although I have to admit a great deal of that time was spent on my I-phone.
 

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As you can see there was the usual crap on the screen, a few scenes from upcoming movies. an advertisement for some wellness center etc.  We were there so early that by the time the real movie previews started, Honorable Son had to go out and refill the popcorn.  He returned just after we found out that this was a 20th Century Fox Film and a Chernins Production.

I have to admit I didn’t have high hopes for this newest version of Planet of the Apes.  I’m a big fan of the original movies, and own all of them.  The Tim Burton remake was mostly crap, and I hated the ending.  Still I was going to give this  a chance.  And I’m glad I did.


In many respects the film is better than the original.  Of course, it has the advantage of over 40 years of technological film improvements on it’s side. But all the technology in the world won’t help if you have a lame story, an idiot plot, and characters you don’t care about.  It is my opinion that if you’re doing a reboot or a remake, you better be bringing something new to the table.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes not only does that, in a way it improves on the original story.  Yeah, there may be a few spoilers ahead and now that you’ve read that disclaimer, you may continue reading just the way you were going to anyway.

Without going into detail, I thought the back story we were given in the original films left a lot to be desired.  It was full of holes plot wise, but that generally happens when you start relying on time travel to explain things.  This film doesn’t do that, although it does hint at things to come which those who are fans of the original series will readily spot, along with a few homages to that series.   The rest of you may either go watch them or it’s just tough shit.
 
The explanation here as to how the Apes begin their ascent to power is twofold.   First, in a search for a cure for the Alzheimer’s Disease his dad, Charles (John Lithgow)  has contracted, researcher Will Rodman (James Franco) searches desperately for a cure, using chimpanzees as the guinea pigs. When the chimp that has shown the most success goes berserk at an inopportune time, the Pharmaceutical Company for which Will works cuts off funding for that particular drug, thus forcing him to start over.  As it turns out, and unbeknownst to every one at first, the chimp had gone berserk not because of the drug, but because she was trying to protect her new born infant.  Will takes the chimpanzee home  and finds out that the gene altering drug given to his mother, has also caused those same genes to be passed down to her son, whom Will has named Caesar.  Knowing the drug was not at fault for the rampage of Caesar's mother, Will also gives the drug to his rapidly deteriorating  father, who is becoming more difficult to control.   It not only cures his disease, but makes his father smarter than he was originally.  For his part, Caesars intelligence is growing by leaps and bounds as well.
 
Later, when Caesar suffers an injury, Will meets and falls for a beautiful veterinarian, Caroline (Frieda Pinto).  Eventually Charles condition starts deteriorating, and in a confrontation with a neighbor, Caesar steps into protect him but gets committed to a crooked Ape sanctuary for his efforts.  Will become preoccupied with finding a new version of his drug and is only partially successful.  As it turns out, the new vapor method of delivery works just dandy on apes, but has an unfortunate side effect on humans when they inhale it.  It’s almost Poetic Justice in this film, as is the fact that whether intentional or not, the film dwells on man’s growing inhumanity, and does not spare us the details of what can happen when corporate profits are put above everything else. 
 
Will’s attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer’s is financed by a drug corporation, not because of the good it will bring to mankind, but because of the huge never ending profits that will benefit the company.  Yeah, you’ll be rooting for the apes in this movie.
 
 
What I also liked about the new set up is how the apes begin their rise to power.  The  total irony  that the drug responsible for their ascent, appears to also be the agent that causes the human race being wiped out, was not lost on me.  Although we must keep in mind that we won’t know for sure if  this will come to pass  with certainty unless a sequel is given the go ahead, a move that now appears quite likely.  I also loved how Director Rupert Wyatt, and writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver incorporated elements from the original films into the screenplay, most of which would not be discernible to those who have not viewed them (shame on you if you haven’t).  That also leaves the film makers with a couple of interesting choices.  Would the next film pick up immediately after this one, several years later, or hundreds of years later?

Thanks to the body and facial artistry of Andy Serkis, he is becoming your go to guy for CGI characters, and has shown there is no limit as to how far the technology may be able to go.  This is a far cry from previous films, where actors were saddled with heavy makeup, often making it difficult to act from inside an ape mask.  That being said, Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunger, and Maurice Evans achieved remarkable results for what must now be seen as primitive technology.  Even Tim Burton’s remake failed to achieve the levels of technological skill we see at work here.  Is it no wonder that the best actors in the film are in fact, the Apes?

No knock here on the human actors though.  Franco does a good job, as does Lithgow.  But their acting abilities are not really stretched to the limit here, and both parts are seriously  underwritten to move the ape plot along.  Of course, it becomes apparent that despite the fact that Will practically raised Caesar from birth, he still never thought of him as much more than a pet, as shown by his willingness to so easily return to drug testing on simians and at times Caesars imprisonment seems almost an after thought.  And I’m not sure Frieda Pinto’s character is even necessary, but damn she is pretty so I’m glad she was there and will give the film a pass on that. And as mean as Tom Felton was to Harry Potter and the gang, that’s nothing compared to what he does to Caesar and the other apes.  He may have the best “human” role in the film.

But those minor quibbles aside, if you go, you won’t be disappointed.  It’s certainly one of the best films I’ve seen this summer.  Hope to view it again on blu-ray.    And it’s certainly worthy of me having no choice but to bestow a very well done A on this simian concoction.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Movies on DVD Blogging–The Big Bird Cage

This little gimmick is something I tried on my Facebook Page and I’m sure I’ll have the same success rate here as I did there.  What that means is nobody will read this shit here either.  I  mean, why just have your family and friends ignoring your shit when you can have the whole wide internet world ignore it?  Pretty cool when you look at it that way.
The way this works is that  while I’m  watching something on my TV, I’ll grab the web cam and take a shot of something in the movie that captures my interest and write a comment for it.  It may be a DVD I own or am renting,or  it could be an old Classic TV series.  It could be something I’m watching on Netflix or Amazon, or on the regular TV series.  Whatever floats my boat. 
What kind of comments?    It may be something as dry as a symopsis of the film, something I’ve noticed about one of the actors or the character they are playing, or maybe something I just want to poke a little fun at.
Sure to be Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Why are you doing this?
Because I  feel like it.  Next question.
 
What kind of  movies did you try this out on at Facebook?
Eyes Wide Shut, Quo Vadis, Tangled, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Getting Straight, and the last one I did was an episode of Buffy. As you can see, it can run the gamut, there is no set criteria.  It’s just what I’m feeling.
 
Why use your web cam?  Why don’t you just take screen captures on your computer and post them?
A.  Because not everything can be played on my computer.
B.  I would lose my spontaneity.
C.  You would lose the effect of what it actually looks like on a flat screen TV and how it really looks to me in my bedroom sanctuary.
D.  More Copyright issues that way, probably less this way.  It’s not like I’m showing the freakin’ movie or anything like that.  I’m in a sense, actually promoting it…..unless it’s really really bad.  And the pictures should be just crappy enough that nobody would care anyway.  I think.
E.  It would be too much like work to do screen captures and not as much fun as this.  And I’m a fun kind of guy because as Arthur said, “Fun is the best thing to have.”  When this becomes too much like work, I quit.
 
Will you post the ones you did on Facebook?
It’s doubtful.  But it could possibly happen if I need a blog post and don’t feel like screwing around with anything else.  Besides, the pictures are open to the public.  You just have to find them.
 
Why are you swearing so much?
In my real personna, it comes and it goes, same as it does here.  This is who I am sometimes.
Now that we have that idiotic stuff  out of the way, let’s get on with it. 
 
I finally received my copy of Roger Corman’s Cult Classics, the Women in Cages Collection from Amazon.  There are three movies in the set. 
They are: 
 
Women in Cages,  The Big Doll House, and The Big Bird Cage.  Three classic films of the B-Genre from the seventies.
Two of these star the great Pam Grier which most of you may know from her recent stints in the Quentin Tarantino movie Foxy Brown. 
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But it was Roger Corman who gave Miss Grier her biggest break when he he cast her in The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage, the movie which I’m  going to view tonight. 
 
I originally saw both of those movies as part of a triple feature at a cinema near downtown Columbus back in the early seventies.  I guess you could classify it as a Grindhouse Theater since it was showing films such as this on a continuous basis.  Other films I saw there were fine cinematic masterpieces such as Student Nurses and Private Duty Nurses.  I was very much interested in human anatomy back in those days and those films did not disappoint.  But character and plot development?  I couldn’t tell you a damn thing?  After all , it was 40 years ago.
 
Rated R
 
Okay, now that we’ve taken care of that, let’s move on.
 
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I decided to watch the trailer that was on the DVD first.  It was really grainy, had lines through it  and was  in really bad shape, just like a Quentin Tarantino flick.  He would be so pleased. 
 
Seriously, I did hope the movie wasn’t like that.  And oh yeah, here’s the shot all you pervs out there are craving.  That’s what you came for isn’t it?  Now that you’ve seen this anonymous butt you can move on because there isn’t anymore.  Go read my Jenni-cam article or something, better yet, go find the thousands of nude pictures of her available by learning how to use Google Image search properly.  You have to turn off the search content filter.
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I didn’t know who Anitra Ford was.  I know, shame on me  But since her name was in letters as big as Pam Grier’s,  that must mean she has an important role in this film.  So I looked her up on the IMDB and now I feel such shame that I didn’t know she was a Price is Right Girl.  Actually, her whole biography is kind of interesting.  Go read it yourself, do I look like the Freakin Enycyclopedia Britannica?
 
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My first glimpse of Anitra Ford.  Or should I say Anitra Ford’s ass.  How did I know it was Anitra?  Do you really have to be a genius to figure that out?  I would also like to say  that it’s a mighty fine ass, something any young actress can really be proud of.  I was also glad to see that, unlike the trailer,  for the feature part of the program, they cleaned the picture up quite nicely.
 
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Pam Grier plays a singer.  She doesn’t look so tough here. Did she do her own warbling?  How the hell do I know?  I wasn’t paying attention to that. I was thinking of moon pies.   (Later, by listening to the director’s commentary I found out that not only did she do her own singing, Pam is a very good singer.)
 
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Here’s what Anitra looks like from the front.  Just in case you’re interested and don’t see her purely as a sex object like Bob Barker and I do.  I couldn’t help notice how frizzy her hair was though.  Either that was the style back then or Corman wouldn’t spring for a hair stylist.  Another one of those little details you won’t remember from having seen the film forty years ago.
 
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Did I say Pam didn’t look so tough?  It’s amazing what a machine gun hidden in your guitar will do for your perception of things.  And I knew all along she wasn’t really a nightclub singer.
 
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I  didn’t see this plot twist coming.  The guy with the beard was a member of Pam Grier’s gang.  So after they get all the loot from the patrons at the night club, he decides he wants a piece of Anitra’s ass  and kidnaps her by carrying her out to what appears to be a getaway golf cart.  Except when he gets there, the golf cart is full and they drive off without him, to the 13th hole I suppose. 
 
So he steals a cab and shoves a not very reluctant Anitra inside.  She asks him what he intends to do with her, and Bearded Guy replies something to the effect that  he’s going to rape her.  She says, that’s okay because she really likes sex and wouldn’t mind being raped by him at all.  No, that’s not the plot twist.  That’s expected in these kind of  movies in which all women are sex starved, sex craving  bimbos.  But hey, it’s all in good fun so what the hell!
 
The plot twist is that  the taxi gets cornered on a bridge by the cops.  Bearded Guy decides to say adios and escapes by jumping off the bridge.  So Anitra gets arrested as an accomplice.  I fully expected that Pam Grier would be the one going to prison first, not Miss Price Is Right price tag turner.
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So in a bit of irony, the innocent Anitra gets taken to court, is forced to cop a plea by the crooked cops and the crooked judge, and sent up river wearing the same red dress she started the movie with.  I guess besides not springing for a hair stylist, Corman skimped on the wardrobe department as well.  Not that I minded.
 
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The prison camp Commandant.  You just know by looking at this asshole that he’s going to be a real bastard before it’s over with.  Think Colonel Klink of Hogan’s Heroes with a different accent and without the laugh track.  Yeah, he’s not going to be a funny guy, even if he does look like Gilbert Godfried.  The actor is Andres Centenara, but you can call him Warden Zappa, no relation to the more famous Frank Zappa or his daughter Moon Unit.
 
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One of the girls tries to entice head guard, Rocco, by flashing and playing with her nipples while he guards the shower door.  The problem is that  Rocco, like some of the other guards, is gay.  So no matter how many times they flash their titties, Rocco isn’t in the market.  So I guess that enables him to beat on them with careless abandon whenever the mood strikes.
 
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Remember bearded guy?  We catch up with  him struggling to get through the forest and back to his base of operations.  Unlike Anitra, who managed to keep her red ass clinging dress intact all the way up river, Bearded Guy can’t keep his pants or shirt on walking through the jungle for a few days.  Of course, just looking at this screen shot, you can tell he compensates for his lack of worthy apparel with a little over acting.  But I think it’s played that way on purpose.
 
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Girl’s, meet Anitra.  Anitra,  meet the  girls.  I’ve seen this scene somewhere before though.  Anitra’s little flesh flash reminds me of something I posted somewhere. Where could it have been?  Oh yeah, now I remember.  It was here. It is here that I finally figured out that Anitra’s character name is Terry.  Although Anitra  is cooler, I guess I’ll call her Terry from here on out.
 
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Bearded Guy finally makes it back to his camp and Pam isn’t all that happy to see him.  Being blind as a bat and not seeing the condition he’s in, she thinks he’s been out in the forest screwing Terry for the past couple of days.  Then again, maybe a person doing the nasty with Terry would end up looking like this.
 
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As you can see, Pam doesn’t stay pissed with bearded guy and after a mud bath, head up to their shack to play hide the bologna.  We also find out some things.  Pam’s name is Blossom, and Bearded Guy is named Django and he is played by Sid Haig, and this guy has a ton of credits to his name and is still going strong. 
As it turns out, Django and Terry  really are revolutionaries.  I thought that was just a bullshit story.  They never say what they are revolting against (Evil Women’s Prisons or being stuck in  B Movies?) or what country they are in.  Judging from the surrounding area of dense foliate, a nearby river, the heat and humidity, and the general lack of education of the populace, my guess is Mississippi.
Not long after this the Revolutionaries come up with a new plan of recruitment.  They’ll break all the women out of the local prison, who will be so grateful that they’ll join up just out of gratitude.  How does this plan work?  Well, first they have to get somebody on the inside, and since there’s only one woman around, you can guess who the lucky girl is going to be without me telling you.
 
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The Big Bird Cage.  And here I thought it would be an actual cage.  No, I didn’t expect it to have giant parakeets in it, and I didn’t think Big Bird was in this movie.  I don’t think they had Sesame Street in those days.  What it is though is a Sugar Mill, built by Colonel Klink-Zappa, so that the harvested sugar cane can be refined, squeezed and processed, then sprinkled on your Captain Crunch Cereal.  The Quaker Oats factory is just down the road and to the left.
 
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And although it wasn’t meant to work that way,  it does a good job of chopping up female prisoners as well if they don’t watch their back.  These broads spend so much time fighting each other, it’s no damn wonder they can never escape.  Is this what they call a hand job?
 
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I couldn’t go on without mentioning Karen McKevi’s  role as Karen.  For me she, was the big dog in the bone yard.  I think she stands about 6 1/2 feet, which pretty much sums up my feelings about that.
 
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Warden Zappa throws a little soirée for some high faluting government officials. In the crazy world of B-Movies, a lot of the girls main goal is not trying to escape, but attempting to getting invited to one of these orgies since  their one desire is to get laid by a man, any man or just to get their brains fucked out in general.  
 
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But what I said above doesn’t hold true for everybody.  This gal goes batshit crazy when these viral young handsome fellows come on to her, which causes major problems around Camp Zappa.  I know she looks like she’s in orgasmic ecstasy here, but believe me when I tell you these guys wienies are about to become as limp as a night crawler.
 
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Terry tries to escape when her other plans go awry.  Here she comes across some nice Pilipino Gentlemen and asks for their assistance.  Unfortunately she’s about to learn that the words “Help Me Please” means “Rape Me Please” in the Philippines.  And the other reason I posted this outfit?  It gives us a chance to see Terry in another skimpy blouse while being quite wet as well.  Ah!  Life’s little pleasures and treasures.
 
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This is the punishment for getting yourself raped in the Philippines.  Either that or it’s a new hair treatment, and remember, Terry did have the frizzies early in the movie.  I know you’re saying that it would not be possible for someone to survive such torture.  Well, bub, let me explain some shit to you:  There is no such thing as a light saber either. And yeah, it was really her punishment for trying to escape.
 
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While Terry decides to just hang around outside  for a while, Blossom finally get’s herself registered at the  Hotel Zappa Deluxe.  Blossom is the boss now and if these clowns don’t know that yet, they will know it right quick.
 
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Blossom:  My name’s Blossom, but that don’t mean shit.  All you have to know is that now I run this place.  Any other  questions?
Girl:  Yeeeahh… where do you want to be buried, nigga’?
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Blossom:  That’s Miss Nigga’ to you bitch.
You just have to love that shit.
 
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The other part of Django’s plan is to infiltrate the camp by getting himself hired on.  This consists of  putting on a beret, baring his midriff in front of Rocco, and sashaying into the Men’s Room to let Rocco have a good look at his package.  Is this what they call Penis Envy?  Or is it just Penal Lust? 
 
On one hand you want to laugh, on the other hand you’re a bit bugged by the stereotype of gays.  But that’s the way Hollywood portrayed them in those days, and in some cases, still do.  So it is what it is.
 
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Unfortunately, a monkey wrench is thrown into their plan when the Warden discovers who Blossom is and proceeds to have Rocco torture her for information.  Unlike Terry though, she gets to keep her hairdo.
 
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Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  She’s taking a shower and lathering herself up.  Well, Karen is lathering herself up but not with soap.  And she’s not taking a shower.  That you see, is chicken grease.  And just why should she be covering herself from head to toe with the remnants of a day’s work at KFC?  
 
But there are bigger questions.  Will Django spring Blossom and Terry before sadistic Warden Zappa does them in?  Or will he succumb to the seductive charms of Rocco?  Will the girls join the revolution in support of more B movies like this one?
 
You’ll have to either go to Shout Factory or someplace like Amazon to buy the movie to find that out.  And it’s one helluva deal.  You get three of these movies for the price of what one normally costs and these are good transfers, not the usual public domain shit some companies churn out to throw in the bargain bin at Wal-mart or K-mart.  A couple of things do irk me though.
 
The first is that Netflix has basically quit carrying Shout Factory titles altogether.  So you can’t get this there but you might try to get it at Blockbuster On-line. I haven’t checked.   Sad to say, is that Netflix’s DVD rental service is steadily going downhill which makes their recent big price increase kind of a joke.  Seriously thinking of canceling the DVD portion.
 
Better yet, don’t be such a tight wad and buy the damn thing.  This one  movie alone is worth it.  You get a little bit of everything:  action, comedy both intended and unintended, some surprisingly snappy dialogue,  torture, beautiful naked women, an Ex Price-is-Right tag turner, and  practically everything else you could want in a movie like this.
 
You can’t watch a movie like The Big Bird Cage and be expecting an A List 100 million dollar Hollywood extravaganza.  There’s no comparing the two.  You have to watch it in the spirit in which it was made, and whether or not even on a very limited budget the Producer, Director, Writers, and actors at least put a little effort into achieving the final result.
 
I really had fun watching The Big Bird Cage.  I’ve only watched a little of it with the Director’s Commentary but look forward to more of that.  I’m not sure that today’s jaded young audiences (and yes, they are quite jaded) will ever know the joys of a film such as this, but hey at least it’s in color.  You don’t know how many times I hear some young foolish idiot punk kid proclaim they won’t watch a black and white movie for any reason.
 
But the trick is not to take a film like The Big Bird Cage seriously, and if you can do that, you should be okay.  So grading The Big Bird Cage on the Roger Corman B Movie curve (as compared to other films), I’d have to give it *** out of *****. 

Road Trip–Cowboys & Aliens

The Girlfriend and I were supposed to make this trip to see Cowboys and Aliens  last weekend.  It’s probably better that we didn’t, opening weekends being what they are crowd wise.  She’s not really keen on Alien Science Fiction movies either, but she had seen the previews for this hybrid  and the fact that they were combining two genre’s intrigued her.  Actually, I just believe she things Daniel Craig is a hottie.
 
I almost went alone though.  I decided that I was going to go whether she wanted to or not.  I wasn’t about to spend another weekend in My Bedroom Sanctuary, writing shit on my blog.  I intended to go to the movies and then come home and then write shit on my blog.  I also intended to do a little shopping afterwards and go somewhere for dinner.
 
So at 3:30 pm  after I had showered and dressed, I went and told her I was leaving.  She asked me where I was going and I told her.  It was then and only then that she told me she had decided she wanted to go after all.
 
As it turns out, since it takes her an hour or more to take a shower, get dressed, and do her hair, we decided to see the six pm showing of Cowboys & Aliens at the Reading Cinema next to the Valley Plaza Mall in Bakersfield.  It’s not as nice and the seats don’t quite have the comfort of either the Edwards Regal or the Maya Cinemas, but it is  cheaper.
 
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The place wasn't all that busy when we got there at fifteen minutes to six but we still had to rush  a bit.  Most of the time I’ll stop and take a picture of this, that and the other to upload and  bring a little atmosphere to the blog piece, but we were pressed  for time and had to hurry.   While I bought the tickets, The Girlfriend had gone ahead inside to get the popcorn and soft drinks.
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No, The Girlfriend is not in this picture.  This is one I took on a previous trip  to the cinema when I used to upload this shit to Facebook.
 
But it is the main snack bar so it works here.  There is another refreshment stand towards the back where there are more, but smaller  auditoriums.  Believe me when I say it would be a long walk from some of them back to this front snack bar if that’s the trek you had to make.  But it would worse if you had to get up and piss in the middle of a Cowboy/Alien (As it turned out I had to) shootout and walk to the front of the cinema, but they had the foresight to put a smaller restroom towards the back as well.  Something neither the Edwards or the Maya can attest to.
 
As you can see, the Bargain Matinee ends at 6:00 PM, so one of us had to pay the full price.  The other one of us got a Senior Ticket which is $3.00 cheaper.  One of the few quirks of getting older is discounts.  The senior discount at this theater starts at age 55, but I won’t tell you which of us that ticket belonged to and what age they are.  It’s irrelevant to this story.
 
As I mentioned, our movie was showing in one of the really smaller auditoriums in the back.  Not a good sign financially for a film that’s only been out a week.  But the American public has made it perfectly clear that Cowboys & Aliens Ticketsthey only want half assed sequels and comic book heroes filling the summer screen. 
 
If a movie doesn’t make a gazillion dollars on opening weekend, then it’s considered a flop.  Funny how a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (which I really enjoyed, a lot more than I did At World’s End) can make over a billion dollars worldwide and be considered a flop by the dumbshit newspapers and some of the even dumber  movie going public in the U.S. 
 
I mean, when we went to see Cowboys & Aliens, I wasn’t sure how good it would be, but I knew sight unseen it would be a helluva lot better than the Fucking Smurfs that I hated when I was young and would undoubtedly hate even more now.  Yet, the Smurfs made just as much money on opening weekend as this film, which proves my point without a doubt about the brain power of the average American film patron and a lesson that will serve to  further convince Hollywood Studio Heads to churn out the same old bullshit and not take even the slightest chance with an original idea.  It doesn’t help matters that the other Alien movie this summer  that I absolutely loved but wasn’t really about Aliens at all, Super 8, suffered the same fate as Cowboys & Aliens and also underperformed at the box office.   Oh well, let’s get one with it.
 

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Auditorium 5 sits almost as far in the back on the left hand side of the Bakersfield Reading Cinema  as you can go without running into a wall.  And just as I said,  it is very small.  Not much bigger than a large basement.  I captured this quick picture at the end of the movie to give you some idea of the size.  It was taken from the last row.


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Still, I’ve seen enough movies in one of these cigar boxes to know that it’s no big deal unless………someone brings their bratty ass kid to the movie.  A kid who doesn’t want to be there, had no fucking interest in watching the film, and is only intent on making a damn nuisance of themselves.  That was the case this day.
 
We were sitting about two rows back of the first row that  you see in this picture.  I was sitting in the aisle seat, and one row in front of me in the section on the left  also in an aisle seat was a woman and her daughter.  My guess is that the little brat was around five, but not more than seven years old. 
 
All during the commercials and during the previews the little brat was stepping up and down on the small aisle step, then climbing in her mother’s lap, climbing out of her mother’s lap, and doing some intermittent whining in between.  I hadn’t had a really bad experience at the movie theater in a while but this was looking to be one if Satan’s Daughter didn’t get in her seat and be quiet when the movie started.  Worse, all during the previews (which I normally enjoy watching)  Mommy Dearest kept pounding away on her cell phone, but at least she did shut the damn thing off a couple of minutes after the movie started.
 
Not so the little monster she had with her.  She kept on and on and it was terribly distracting making it difficult for me to get drawn into the early part of the film.  Every once in a while, she would literally climb across her mother from the aisle, and whine something to her or pulling on her arm.  I tried to ignore it but the shenanigans just kept going on endlessly   At least if we were in one of the large auditoriums  we could have changed seats but in Number 9,  the only alternative was to sit right up front next to the screen.  The rest of the seats were taken.
 
But finally, I guess Mommy Dearest had enough as well, grabbed the little darling and left.  She did not return.  Honestly, if you know your little shit is going to behave that way, why even try to bring her  in the first place and blow at least $14 bucks, or even more if you bought refreshments?  Especially if you have no intention to teach her proper etiquette or to even discipline her.  And why drag her to a movie like this if she isn’t interested.  Take her to see the blue little smurf bastards running amok on the screen down the hall.
 
I almost would  rather she had done that then for her to give in to the kid so she could live to be a pain in the ass to somebody else on another day.  Let me put it this way:  When I took my kids to the movies, they behaved. And they did it because I let it be known before hand that if they got out of line, it would be the last movie they would see in  the theater or even at home on the TV for a long long time.  And once at home, they would be doing a lot of contemplating looking at the spot where two blank walls come together.   So if you can’t teach them proper movie etiquette, then leave the little bastards at home.  Thank you very much.  I and the rest of the American Movie Going Public appreciate it.
 
Now what about the movie?  After having read the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, I wasn’t sure how it would work out.  But I enjoyed it and loved the mix of a dark Western and Science Fiction. 
 
The character played by Daniel Craig, Jake Lonergan, reminded me of Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name  in the Spaghetti Westerns of his early career.  In fact, at the beginning of the film, Craig not only doesn’t have a name, he has no memory of anything which only adds to the mystery.
 
Harrison Ford gives one of his better performances here as the villainous Wodrow Dolarhyde, and it’s cool to see him not being the good guy for a change.   But things are not always so cut and dry sometimes as to who is the villain and who is not.  There’s no doubt that Dolarhyde’s son Percy (why are villains or the sons of villains always called Percy?) is worse than his father, His main purpose in life is to be as cruel and obnoxious as he possibly can.  But it’s only because Daddy has always given him everything he has always wanted, convinced the kid he can do no wrong, and always bailed him out of trouble when necessary.  Sort of like what the Republicans do with Millionaires, Billionaires, and Giant Corporations.  But Paul Dano does a terrific job as Percy.  He certainly reminded me of Doug Hutchison’s Percy Wetmore in The Green Mile.
And Olivia Wilde  as the beuatiful and  mysterious Ella, whom may or may not know who Jake is, where he came from, and why he is wearing the electronic bracelet, makes me want to go back and watch her House episodes ( a series of which I’m only a casual fan.)
To be honest, the entire cast is very good, and the fact that the relationships between the characters change and grow is we find out their true nature, only makes the film that much better.
 
But C&A doesn’t reveal too much too soon, only slowly unraveling what the connection between the Aliens and Jake may or may not be, who the mystery girl in Jake’s picture may be, and whether or not he is really the evil outlaw everybody thinks he is.  And the fact that all these different prairie types have to learn to co-exist and work together if they are to survive makes the film that much more interesting.   The movie does plod a bit in the beginning, but eventually gains a lot of momentum as more and more of the plot and its secrets is revealed.  Of the movies I have seen this summer at the theater, I would say it’s easily one of the top three, so I have no choice but to give it my grade of an A-.