Sunday, May 21, 2017



Autumn leaves from Paul Schrader's Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

How do you depict the life of a great writer or poet using a method that is worthy of the uniqueness of their vision? Off-beat depictions of this type include Sergei Parajanov's off-beat biography of poet Sayat Nova, The Color of Pomegrantes or Todd Haynes take on Bob Dylan in I'm Not There. Paul Schrader's Mishima is along those lines as well. It depicts events of writer Yukio Mishima told in flashback, in the context of the four seasons of the title and with dramatizations from Mishima's novels thrown in. And it all seems to make sense somehow! Not exactly the stuff that lends itself to commercial success, but certainly an artistic success for Schrader and a noteworthy entry for the 1001 book.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in
Agnes Varda's Vagabond

A different type of non-commercial film in Agnes Varda's Vagabond. Like Mishima, It also is told in flashback of a character that we know has died and the film retraces the steps of the tragic heroine. The movie has an occasional documentary feel with characters in the film describing their encounters with the main character. Her journey is unpleasant even during the best of times, but it's a pretty fascinating...assuming you are in the mood to sit through a pretty somber journey.

There were some films that did not make the 1001 movie cut from 1985 that I have seen. Here are a few. I'll also try to determine if I should ever revisit any of these films again.
1.  After Hours-One man's crazy journey through Soho one night made for a fascinating film and a very different trip from Marting Scorcese.
Should I Revisit? I think this would be a very worthwhile revisit.

Griffin Dunne dreams of this night being over in After Hours

2. A Chorus Line-One singular sensation....Seems the musical was more popular on stage than on film from what I remember.
Revisit? More likely I'd see this on the stage.
3. Desperately Seeking Susan-Is this Madonna chick a flash in the pan? Movie didn't do much for me.
Revisit? Hope not
4. Clue-I remember this film based on the board game had several different endings that were all thankfully included together for the video release. Clue got panned when it came out, but it's not without its fans and does have an interesting cast going for it and is okay if you're in the mood for something light.
Revisit? Maybe...and probably more likely for me than it is I'd be revisiting the actual game.

Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum and others
dream of being taken seriously in Clue

5. The Emerald Forest-I remember thinking this movie as having a pretty strong environmental statement. Am I remembering that right?
Revist? Maybe if I'm ever in a Powers Boothe/Environmental kind of mood.
6.Fletch-A comedian roasting Chevy Chase once said something like , "Chevy Chase, a man whose career ambition seemed to be making four good films and forty bad ones." Fletch is one of the good ones.
Revist? I'd have to be with someone who says, "Hey, you want to watch Fletch!"

7. Cocoon-An alien culture bringing a fountain of youth of sorts to a group in a retirement home is a fun trip. It has been awhile since I've seen this one.
Revist? I could see watching this desire to see Cocoon II.
Wilfrid Brimley, Hume Cronyn and Don Ameche
 dream of getting that young feeling again
in Cocoon

8. Jewel of the Nile-Let's make an Indian Jones type movie, but with Michael Douglas and let's give him Kathleen Turner as a leading lady. I think the results were pretty good from what I remember.
Revist? I don't see making an effort to see this again.
9. Jagged Edge-Courtroom drama whose twist and turns I figured out pretty quickly. Others seemed to like it better.
Revisit? Only if I forget who did it. I currently remember.

10. Lost in America-Fun trip in a Winnebago from a couple just trying to be like Easy Rider without being anything really like the guys in Easy Rider.
Revisit? Yes, I'd like to hop on the Winnebago again. 

Yuppies dream of being like Billy and Captain America
in Lost in America

11. The Mean Season-Reminded me of Absence of Malice and I know it had Mariel Hemingway in it. That's about all I remember from it.
 Revist? Don't see it happening.

12. Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment-If you can recount the plotlines of the individual Police Academy movies that you are a better man than I.
Revist? If one of the Clinton family comes by and wants to watch it, I guess I'll pop it in the ole VCR.

13. My Life as a Dog-Swedish coming of age story is still one of my favorite movies of the decade. Why isn't this in the 1001 book?
 Revist? It's a knockout! Absolutely!

Kid dreams of being the next Ingemar Johannsson
in My LIfe as a Dog
14. Real Genius-My wife likes this 80's romp more that I do.
 Revist? That one is up to my wife.

15. Return to Oz-Pretty clever touches, but Wizard of Oz is a mighty hard act to follow.
Revist? Probably as likely as my watching The Neverending Story Again.
16. Pee Wee's Big Adventure-The definitive Pee Wee movie. See for a comparison between this film and The Bicycle Thief.
Revist? You should definitely see this one every few years or so.

Grown-up kid dreams of winning the Tour de France
in Pee Wee's Big Adventure

17. Mask-Sad story with Cher as a motorcycle mama raising a kid who suffers from craniodiaphyseal dysplasia. Not to be confused with the later Jim Carrey film, The Mask...not that youprobably would.
Revisit? If someone says let's have a Cher or Peter Bogdonavich marathon, I guess.

18. Twice in a Lifetime-You know a movie doesn't leave much of an impression if the only thing you can remember about it is that Brian Dennehy was in it.
Revist? Sorry, this one is only for viewing once in a lifetime.

19. A View to a Kill-Last of the Roger Moore Bonds and not the best of the film series, but I think Roger was a most capable Bond...even though he has a lot of haters.
Revist? If I ever want to have a Bond marathon, A View to a Kill wouldn't be all that high on the list.
Roger Moore dreams of being as beloved as Sean Connery
in A View to a Kill
20. Witness-Nice detective story and interesting incorporation of the Amish people into the storyline.
Revist? Even though I like the film and have only seen it once, I really don't have that great a desire to watch it again...maybe I'll just find the scene where Harrison Ford posing goes all radical Mennonite and punches out a jerk on YouTube.

21. Rocky IV-Starts off well with James Brown and Apollo Creed...but then just disintegrates once Rocky starts training to fight the Russian.
 Revist? If I can change and you can change..everybody can change, but I ain't watching this one again.

22. Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues-The trilogy is...The strange original, which is worth seeing just for it's oddness. The awful Return to Boggy Creek, which does at least have Dawn Wells in it and a reformed Boggy Creek monster. Boggy Creek II is numbered II even though it is the third one. It is best seen in the guise of an MST3K episode. I know there have been recent movies with Boggy Creek in the title, but I'll leave those for study by future students of campy films.

Revist?  I just did and my Boggy Creek trilogy marathon is now complete.

Rustic auteur Charles B. Pierce probably dreamed his Boggy Creek II
had been respected enough not to be lampooned on MST3K

23. White Nights-Interesting (to me) two of the three main movies I saw during this period at the Plaza Theater featured Gregory Hines. Not sure how I missed going to see Wolfen or Running Scared there.
Revisit: I'll let it remain a Plaza Theater memory. (see below)

24. A Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy’s Revenge-Can't remember the details of this one...maybe need some kind of dream therapy.
Revist? -Only if I want to see every movie in this other words...I doubt it.

25. Runaway Train
I just watched this one. A good action piece about a couple of escaped convicts on a...well, a runaway train. It also boasts good performances from Jon Voight and Eric Roberts as the escapees.Interesting that both of them were Oscar nominated for this action flick...and deserved to be. Also give credit to director Andrei Konchalovsky for the solid pacing and a cabal of writers, including future Reservoir Dog Eddie Bunker! It's also interesting that this is also based on an earlier screenplay from Akira Kurosawa. I'm sure this helped with the films success (Artistically anyway!)

Jon Voight dreams of escape on the Runaway Train

The legendary Plaza Theater in Atlanta

I got my first apartment in Atlanta in 1985. One of my memories of that year was the just down the street Plaza Theater on Ponce De Leon Road. The theater (I liked to sit in the balcony) is forever ingrained in my head with that year. I remember (by advertisements in the newspaper, mind you) that this was an X-rated movie theater in the 70's. (Apparently, my memory of one ad is correct and there really was a 70's porno movie called Creme de Banana playing there!).

The theater was located next to the Plaza Drug pharmacy, which showed the same commercial on late night TV for of a family from the 1950's well into the late 70's. On the other side was the all-night eaterie, Dobie's Good Foods, which was a good place for a late night 1985 cheeseburger.

The theater itself is still there, but it will always be the place I got lost in After Hours at a late night showing and White Nights as a matinee and entered The Cotton Club the year before. I didn't see that many movies there, but the memory is strong with this one.

The legendary Plaza Drugs pharmacy in Atlanta

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Harry Dean Stanton and Natassja Kinski in
Paris, Texas

Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise

1984 in film had it's share of blockbusters (Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, The Terminator), big sequels (Star Trek III, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), popular kid stuff (Gremlins, The Karate Kid, Footloose) and silly comedies (Police Academy, Revenge of the Nerds). In retrospect, the year also gave us some good small, independent films, two of which are listed above.

Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas is the story of a middle-aged drifter named Travis who is reunited with his brother and son after Travis's whereabouts have been unknown for a number of years. Much of the plot involves the unraveling of what has happened to him, and what he wants and needs. The search for his missing wife is a big part of the equation, too. I  love the scenes with estranged couple Harry Dean Stanton and  Natassja Kinski communicating through glass at a strip club. I saw this movie years ago and quickly got caught up in the storyline once again.

I like Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise a lot. The story has three main characters: two buddies and their Hungarian born female friend. (Jarmusch later used a trio of main characters in Down by Law). The trio go from New York in the first scene to Cleveland in the middle act and wind up in Florida for the finale. There is a plot involving gambling theft, which does set their travels in motion, but it is the character study that is so biting here. We see shades of human frailty, avarice, and even a bit of growth for our trio at times. I liked the ending as well, though I can see where the unresolved nature of it all may leave some frustrated.

There were some films that did not make the 1001 movie cut from 1984 that I have seen. Here are a few. I'll also try to determine if I should ever revisit any of these films again.

1. 1984-One of the best and certainly best know of all Dystopian novels has been brought to the screen before the year in question. Some may prefer the 1950's television version with Peter Cushing as Winston Smith or the 1956 theatrical version with Edmond O'Brien. The 1984 version of 1984 successfully re-creates the paranoia and otherworldliness of the book. However, viewing will be no substitute for not reading the original novel in this case. There will be a test later!
Should I revisit? 2017 makes 1984 required viewing.

John Hurt as Winston Smith in 1984
2. 2010-The movie from 1984 named after a different year had the thankless job of being a sequel to Kubrick's unsurpassed classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, when viewed on its on terms, this Peter Hyams/Arthur C. Clarke collaboration is a fine film in its own right.
Revisit? Not sure, but I am hoping to read all the books in this Arthur C. Clarke series...2061, 3001 and maybe another year I missed.

3. All of Me-Lily Tomlin possesses Steve Martin's body and the comedy skills of these actors is what makes this an amusing film. It has a while since I've seen this one...opinions may change.
Revisit? Not unless I have a Steve Martin marathon where I have to see everything he made. (Not ruling that out!)

4. Bachelor Party-"Better than Animal House!" a friend of mine told me before I ever saw this Tom Hanks slob comedy. He was wrong. It wasn't better than Animal House.
Revisit? Don't see it happening. Will probably watch Animal House again instead.

5. Blood Simple-Good reviews got me to got to the theater to view this low-budget film noir from these new filmmakers called the Coen Brothers. I've seen all their films ever since.
Revisit? New Criterion release equals another viewing in the near future.

 Ubiquitous character actor M. Emmett Walsh in Blood Simple

6. Blame it on Rio-Sex comedy featuring a young Demi Moore and an aging lothario played by Michael Caine. It think they played daughter and father and Caine was dating a friend of hers...or something like that.
Revisit? This was a one shot only.

7. Broadway Danny Rose-Woody Allen's period of quality films from the 80's continued with this black and white comedy about a talent agent who gets involved with nefarious criminals and second rate acts.
 Revisit? I think it's worth another go...if it isn't, Woody's films are real short in any case.

 8. The Cotton Club-Francis Ford Coppola's gangster film is often compared to his earlier The Godfather in and usually ends with the conclusion that it isn't nearly as good as The Godfather. It's not without appealing moments, especially from the dance scenes featuring Gregory Hines.
Revisit? I think I'd probably spend that time re-watching The Godfather instead...or Animal House.
 9. Body Double-Criticized for being misogynistic and yet another Hitchcock rip-off from director Brian DePlama, I still like this film enough after all these years enough to own a copy.
Revisit?  It's on my shelf...I probably will

 Deborah Shelton has an unwelcome visitor
in Body Double

10. Dreamscape-If you die in your dreams, will you die in real life? A good thriller, but may pale a bit in comparison right after you've seen Inception.
 Revisit? I did watch it again a couple of years ago...that will have to do for this life.

11. Footloose-No dancing in this town! I remember when this came out, there was a criticism that it was just trying to piggyback off the success of the earlier dance movie Flashdance. But what do you know that Footloose has had more ultimate staying power than the earlier film!
Revisit?  I think its more likely I might see a stage version.

12. The Brother From Another Planet-Strange little sci-fi from director John Sayles about an escaped slave from another planet that I liked when it was first released.
Revisit? After reading the description of it and being reminded what this is about, this one would definitely be worth another look.

13. Give My Regards to Broadstreet-I'm a big Beatles fan and usually will try anything Beatles related, but I don't know what Paul McCartney was thinking with this one which was about...I'm...just...not...really...sure. At least it has some good songs.
Revisit? Despite the fact that I saw a website that said Give My Regards to Broadstreet was a lot better than you may remember, I don't see it happening.

Paul McCartney dressed as...I'm guessing a skunk of some kind?
in Give My Regards to Broad Street

14. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-Often labeled as the weakest Indiana Jones film, I think after a recent viewing that that assessment may be unfair. I found it a pretty good adventure film. It doesn't have Karen Allen, which is a problem.
Revisit? I already revisited once a couple of years ago...that may have to suffice, Shorty!
15. Irreconcilable Differences-Drew Barrymore divorces her parents Shelley Long and Ryan O'Neal.
Revisit? No. Just no.

16. Johnny Dangerously-I like Joe Piscopo more than some do, but I can't remember too much to recommend this gangster comedy other than there is a song by Weird Al Yankovic.
Revisit? I saw this movie once...ONCE!

17. Choose Me-This low budget drama I remember really liking...any movie with Genevieve Bujold as a late night DJ has that going for it right off the bat.
Revisit?  Definitely

That sexy voice of Genevieve Bujold (and the rest of her)
in Choose Me

18. The Lonely Guy-It's tough to be lonely...not the best of the Steve Martin comedies, though I tend to like most everything Steve Martin is in.
Revisit? See comment under All of Me

19. Moscow on the Hudson-One of the early examples of Robin Williams showing off his dramatic chops in a Paul Mazursky dramedy about a Russian stateside.
Revisit? Yeah, I think so.

20. The NeverEnding Story-Creative, fantastical adventure and the favorite movie of at least two people I know.
Revisit? We recently did a book group on the Michael Ende book. I was planning to watch it again...but ended up only watching the music video of the opening song by Limahl!
21. Crimes of Passion-Underrated and kinky Ken Russell film featuring Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins.
Revisit? Yes. Just have to decide if it's part of a Kathleen Turner marathon, Tony Perkins marathon or Ken Russell marathon. Or maybe I'll just watch Animal House again.
Kathleen Turner examines the merchandise in Crimes of Passion
22. Night of the Comet-Cute teenage end of the world movie that I remember watching a few years ago with my son and niece.
Revisit? Only if Kara and Collin come into town and want to watch it.

23. Police Academy-Speaking of never ending stories...I guess this long running film series actually did have a beginning.
Revisit? Only if Bill Clinton comes into town and wants to watch it.

24. Protocol-One of those cute 80's comedies about Goldie Hawn going to Washington and...and...what was this about again?
Revisit? I'm not interested enough to look up in Wikipedia the synopsis of Protocol, let alone watch it again.

25. Master Ninja-Really a failed Lee Van Cleef pilot and subsequent episode smushed together seemingly for the sole purpose of being lampooned later on Mystery Science Theater.
Revisit? MST episodes are always a possibly for a rewatch.

 I think it's interesting that someone
actually took the time to make
 some Master Ninja artwork

26. The Razor's Edge-"I never understood gluttony." Bill Murray does Somerset Maugham with pretty interesting results.
Revisit? Probably only in conjunction with reading the book.

27. Revenge of the Nerds-It was nice to see the nerds get their revenge at the time.
Revisit? Though glad to see the nerds get their revenge, I don't really need to see them do it again.

 28. Repo Man-Cult film about car repossessors, aliens and featuring a cranky Harry Dean Stanton.
Revisit? Did someone say Harry Dean Stanton film festival?

  Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton get ready to do some
repossesin' in Repo Man
29. Red Dawn-The cast of Dirty Dancing and other brat packers take on the Russkies. Proves that not all 1984 movies with Harry Dean Stanton were good.
Revisit? No. But do need to watch The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming! as soon as possible.

30. Romancing the Stone-First of a couple of fun adventure movies with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.
Revisit? Probably not...though watching Kathleen Turner during this period isn't an idea without a certain appeal.
31. Sixteen Candles-An important movie to the generation that graduated high school four years after me.
Revisit? Only if my wife asks me to. She did make me watch Real Genius and Pretty in Pink, so there is some precedent here.

32. Splash-Ron Howard film about a mermaid that really helped make Tom Hanks a star was a big hit...but I just remember thinking it was only so so.
 Revisit? I might like it better if I saw it again. I'll think about it.

33. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock-Clever entry in the Star Trek film series that found a way to bring back Spock.
Revisit? I'd have to see Wrath of Khan first.

I have been and ever shall be your friend...Star Trek III

34. Supergirl-Superhero movie that I only watched because it was on a VHS tape that was handy. I think this was only made in the first place because Christopher Reeve wasn't around.
Revisit? Not likely
35. Teachers-Not a bad dramedy about inner city teachers with Nick Nolte.
Revisit? I liked it, but don't particularly desire to go to school again.
36. Thief of Hearts-This was a chick flick about a guy who stole hearts and redecorated kitchens and I also remember it had George Wendt in it.
Revisit? I cannot imagine a scenario where I would watch Thief of Hearts again.
37. Stop Making Sense-Concert film of The Talking Heads that was one of the first things I checked out from the video store when I got my new VCR. It was about the only thing my friend Mark wanted to rent for awhile!
Revisit? Only if Mark comes into town and want to watch it.
 David Byrne of The Talking Heads dances while wearing
an oversized suit in Stop Making Sense
38. Tightrope-Clint Eastwood cop movie that was a little less over the top than Dirty Harry from what I remember.
Revisit-I wouldn't rule it out if I get on Clint kick...which is more likely after reading American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood by Marc Eliot.

39. Unfaithfully Yours-Those halcyon days of lighthearted Dudley Moore comedy vehicles were probably fairly amusing but left no lasting impression.
Revisit-Revisit what?
40. Purple Rain-It took me thirty years to finally see this famous Prince semi-autobiographical film. The songs like When Doves Cry and the title song have been part of popular culture since release. The movie itself is about Prince's rough relationship with his family, his struggles with getting his music onstage and his relationship with an attractive hanger named Apollonia (Strangely enough played by an actress named Apollonia!) Not a classic by any means, but an undeniably impressive showcase for the talent of the star at his peak.
Revisit-It took me thirty years to watch, but I'll watch again. (If my wife asks me, of course)

Prince as the Kid in Purple Rain

Sunday, May 7, 2017



Jerry Lewis and Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy
When Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy, a story about  a would be comic trying to become famous by whatever means necessary came out, it disappeared quickly from theaters. I caught it when it came on cable and liked it very much. Robert De Niro (as the wonderfully named Ruppert Pupkin) played a part so different than Travis Bickle or Jake La Motta, that he is almost unrecognizable. Jerry Lewis plays a Johnny Carson-like talk show host whose life Pupkin invades. Truly a movie ahead of its time and says a lot about getting your fifteen minutes of fame by any means necessary. I'm glad this made this made the 1001 book alongside of the better known Scorsese films.

The Ballad of Narayama
The 1983 version of The Ballad of Narayama is a more cinematic upgrade of the 1958 film of the same name about a 19th century Japanese village in which the tradition of taking those approaching their 70th birthday to a remote mountain to live out their life is the centerpiece of the plot. More fleshed out and darker in some of the way the subplots are handled than in the original, I think watching both versions back to back is good approach to viewing these films.


I have seen a lot of films released in 1983 that didn't make the 1001 list. Here are twenty-five.

1. The Dead Zone-One of the best adaptations to screen of a Stephen King book features the especially interesting supporting character of Greg Stillson, a charismatic but destructive politician who is only undone by the sacrifices of the psychic main character.

The Dead Zone
2. Brainstorm-Another Christopher Walken movie, remembered mostly as the film that Natalie Wood died during the filming of.

3. All the Right Moves-What do I remember about this movie? Small mill-town, Tom Cruise trying to get out of, the title song by Jennifer Warnes and (I have to confess) Lea Thompson topless.

4. Doctor Detroit-I remember this Dan Aykroyd film as being a bit of disappointment. I did go back and watch Devo's video of the title song from the movie...that video was at least fun!

5. Flashdance-I'm not a big fan of Flashdance, but I think you could make a case that this movie seemed like such a big deal in 1983, that you could make a case for inclusion in the 1001 book..or not. I'm easy!


6. Easy Money-If you like Rodney Dangerfield (and I do), this was a good vehicle for him.

7. Jaws 3-D-I think the challenge for Paramount studios was to continue to make the Jaws sequels progressively worse.

8.Liquid Sky-When I first got a VCR, I wanted to check out some off-beat things you couldn't easily watch elsewhere. So what better film to fit that criteria to fit this bill than a low-budget movie about lesbian space aliens and heroin addiction! Freaky, man!

9. National Lampoon's Vacation-Certainly one of the better Chevy Chase comedies from the 80's. Still think about the Wally World parking scene whenever I have to park far away from something.

10. Krull-I've got to be honest. I can't remember if I actually saw this space/fantasy film. I do remember having Marvel's comic book adaptation!

Krull: The Comic Book

11. Never Say Never Again/Octopussy-That year when the Sean Connery James Bond went head-to-head with the Roger Moore James Bond. I think Moore won this particular battle.

12. Psycho II-Psycho had to be a tough film to make a sequel to twenty years later to, but I think the story works and it was great to see Anthony Perkins as Norman again.

13. Reuben, Reuben-One of my favorite movie endings and maybe my favorite involving a dog.*

*Comment written before I saw Umberto D.

14. Silkwood-Good psychological/true life/ thriller drama and a must-see for Cher completists.

15. The Man With Two Brains-One of Steve Martin's funniest, if not pretty silly at the same time. But how can you not love a movie with Merv Griffin as a serial killer?

The Man With Two Brains

16. The Twilight Zone Movie-You want to see something really scary? Some nice updates of some classic TZ segments, including George Miller's update of Nightmare at 20,00 Feet!

17. Stayin' Alive-Sylvester Stallone's sequel to Stayin' Alive is

18. Strange Brew-Love SCTV, love Bob and Doug Mckenize, but not so sure about it as a full-length feature. No liking this more makes me feel like a hoser.

19. Superman III-This series definitely peeked with Superman II.

Star '80-I thought Bob Fosse's film about the tragic life of Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten was very gripping. I always liked the way Fosse put together a movie...Too bad his career film output was so sparse.

Star '80

21. Testament-Strong drama about dealing with nuclear winter that I actually first saw on PBS!

22. To Be or Not to Be-I'm not sure this Mel Brooks remake of the Lubitsch classic was a good idea.

23. War Games-I wasn't as wowed by this video game/nuclear disaster warhead movie as much as others seemed to be at the time. Might be worth another look.

24 Yentl-I'm not a big Barbara Streisand fan. And when I first saw clips of her posing as a boy, I agreed with David Letterman's joke about her looking like "David Brenner's nephew." But once I saw the film, I have to admit it's pretty moving.

25, Zelig-One of Woody Allen's films you may have missed because it seem to blend in with some his other better known films.


I wouldn't call 1983 a total Thriller, and you may beat it with other years.
But it wasn't all bad. Not everything is black and white, you know! Guess
it's just human nature to think so. Until next time...