Friday, January 22, 2021

Week of January 23 - 29, 2021



To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which American body builder used to be a room mate to Steve Reeves before either of them started making movies in Italy?
Lou Degni, aka Mark Forest.

During the making of what Western did director Sergio Corbucci see a UFO?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was IL MERCENARIO, aka A PROFESSIONAL GUN, aka THE MERCENARY.

For which Western did Franco Nero reject the idea of hiring Sergio Corbucci to direct?
No one has answered this question yet.

During the making of which movie did Mickey Knox decide that he wouldn't work with Sergio Leone anymore?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WEST, aka ONCE  UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which Italian Western begins with Giovanni Pazzafini selling cattle to Giuliano Gemma?
Which Italian Western features Giovanni Pazzafini murdering Rosalba Neri?
Which film features Miles O'Keeffe killing Robert Black?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Rick Garibaldi identified last week's frame grab from JOHNNY HAMLET, aka QUELLA SPORCA STORIA NEL WEST, aka THAT DIRTY STORY OF THE WEST, aka THE WILD AND THE DIRTY.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of Roger Browne and Jose Greci in SETTE CONTRO TUTTI, aka SEVEN REBEL GLADIATORS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one has identified the above frame grab yet.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

I am interested in knowing what movies you have watched and what you enjoyed or not. So please send me an email at if you'd like to share. Here's what I watched last week:

Highly enjoyed:

MIGHTY APHRODITE (1995) - Woody Allen steps away from Scandinavian and Russian inspirations to embrace Ancient Greece and George Bernard Shaw's PYGMALION with the result being one of his funniest films. The film opens in a Greek Theater in Sicily, where F. Murray Abraham leads a masked chorus in narrating the story. Allen's wife, Helena Bonham Carter, suddenly desires a baby and so a boy is adopted. The boy, Jimmy McQuaid, proves to be very bright as he grows up, so Allen desires to learn something about his parentage. Meanwhile, Carter becomes rather distant to him as she works on opening a new art gallery, with the assistance of Peter Weller, who makes no secret of his desire for her. Stealing information from the adoption agency, Allen sets out to find the birth mother. After going through a long list of aliases, he finally finds her as porno actress and prostitute Linda Cum, aka Leslie Ash, played wonderfully by Mira Sorvino. Though the chorus, and Danielle Ferland as priestess Cassandra, warn him against it, Allen sets out to change Sorvino's life. When her pimp Dan Moran threatens violence, Allen finds that being a sports writer who can get floor seats to Nicks' games comes in handy. When Allen's effort to hook up Sorvino with clean cut boxer Michael Rapaport fails, and Carter announces that she may move in with Weller, it looks like Allen and Sorvino might end up together, but Allen decides to invoke the "deus ex machina" of Ancient Greek drama to ensure an happy ending for everyone. Aside from times when the gorgeous Helena Bonham Carter seems to be channeling Mia Farrow, the cast for this film is excellent, including Jack Warden (in his 3rd Allen film), Tony Darrow (of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Tony Sirico (of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Paul Herman (in his 4th Allen film), Rawleigh Moreland (of NEW YORK STORIES), John D. Bair (of MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY), Kenneth Edelson (in his 3rd Allen film), William Addy (Of MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY), Paul Giamatti, Peter McRobbie (in his 3rd Allen Film), Rosemary Murphy (in her 3rd Allen project), Claire Bloom (of CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS), Donald Symington (of ANNIE HALL), Olympia Dukakis, David Ogden Stiers (of SHADOWS AND FOG) and Steven Randazzo (in his 3rd Allen film). Kent Blocher, who works as an assistant to film editor Susan E. Morris, provided the voice of Zeus, while helicoptor pilot Al Cerullo returns to fly again from MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY.  Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland, who was the off-screen interviewer in HUSBANDS AND WIVES, stands in for Oedipus behind a stage mask. Dick Hyman, who has been working with Allen since 1980's STARDUST MEMORIES, does exceptional work here, with the Greek chorus turning into an acapella singing group at times, before choreographer Graciela Daniele steps in to turn "When You're Smiling" into something like a Broadway musical number.

EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU (1996) - Graciela Daniele's work on MIGHTY APHRODITE seems to have inspired Woody Allen to finally go ahead and make a musical. But, as his previous films have shown, he loves the music of his youth, so it's a "jukebox musical". Allen decision to not cast the performers for their ability to sing isn't as radical as director Peter Bogdanovich's decision with AT LONG LAST LOVE to record them giving live performances for another "jukebox musical". Bogdanovich only uses Cole Porter songs, which Allen used in previous films, but for this effort, Allen uses songs from a wide variety of other writers, a few by Gus Kahn. Again Dick Hyman rises to the occasion to being it all together. Allen again makes this a narrated film, this time by Natasha Lyonne, who plays Allen's biological daughter, now living with mother Goldie Hawn, step dad Alan Alda, brother Lukas Haas and sisters Gaby Hoffmann, Natalie Portman and Drew Barrymore. One of the joys of watching this movie now is seeing this cast how they looked 24 years ago. Julia Roberts plays a patient of Lyonne's friend Barbara Hollander's mother, Psychiatrist Waltrudis Buck. Hollander drilled an hole in the wall so that the girls can listen in on Buck's sessions, and when Lyonne overhears Roberts talking about her romantic fantasies, Lyonne figures that she's found a perfect woman for her single father. Lyonne's coaching of Allen to try and steal away another man's wife reminds one of PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM, and it ends in a similar manner - but it does not recall CASABLANCA. Uncharacteristic of Allen's previous films, is a touch of political humor in which Alda is confused at how his son can be a conservative Republican living in a liberal Democratic household. Was this inspired by Allen working with Michael J. Fox who was in the TV series Family Ties? Anyway, after Haas faints at a party, the doctors find that it is a clogged artery issue preventing proper blood flow to the brain. With the artery fixed, Haas rejects his previous conservative views and he embraces his father's liberalism. Hawn's liberal activism leads to her helping to get Tim Roth freed from prison, at which point he woos Barrymore away from her impending marriage to Edward Norton. Allen's screenplay pulls his characters from New York City, to Venice, Italy and Paris, France - where we see a party celebrating the Marx Brothers with a chorus of dancers performing "Horray For Captain Spaulding" from ANIMAL CRACKERS in French while dressed as Groucho. "Everyone Says I Love You" is a song from HORSE FEATHERS, which should clue the audience in that this film is madcap, but being an Allen film, it is realistic madcap. Even though his concept was to show people with normal voices suddenly breaking into song, Allen was convinced by Drew Barrymore to bring in Olivia Hayman to sing for her. Reportedly, Allen convinced Goldie Hawn to not sing as well as she could, but she still sounds lovely for the final version of "I'm Through With Love". It seems like a perfect Woody Allen idea to have the most romantic scene in the movie be between a formerly married couple that have remained friends. Itzhak Perlman fans will be thrilled to see him perform accompanied by his daughter Navah. Also in the cast are Billy Crudup, Robert Knepper, Jo Telford (of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Frederick Rolf (of DON'T DRINK THE WATER), Timothy Jerome (of HUSBANDS AND WIVES) and returning from MIGHTY APHRODITE: Rene Ceballos, John Mineo, Ray Garvey, Tony Sirico (in his 3rd Allen film), Valda Setterfield and David Ogden Stiers. Reportedly scenes featuring Tracy Ullman, Kim Rossi Stuart and Liv Tyler were cut out of the movie. How hard was it to have Drew Barrymore's nipples be that erect during her scene with Tim Roth?

DECONSTRUCTING HARRY (1997) - Woody Allen complains that people keep thinking that his movies are autobiographical, and his defense against HARRY being taken that way is that he's never suffered from writer's block as his character in this film does. On the other hand, the film is about a writer who transforms people and events in his real life into the fiction he writes, and there's much in HARRY that screams analogy. Particularly the part about kidnapping his son from a vengeful mother that won't let the father see him. "I liked that movie, and if you check out the cast list it reads like an all-star team of gifted actors and actresses, some of whom I'd worked with before and some of whom I had the privilege of directing for the first time." Among the repeaters are Caroline Aaron (in her 4th Allen film), Bob Balaban (of ALICE), Judy Davis (in her 3rd Allen film), Mariel Hemingway (of MANHATTAN), Julie Kavner (in her 7th Allen project), Stephanie Roth (of CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS), Dan Frazier (his 3rd Allen film), Irving Metzman (in his 3rd Allen film), Tony Darrow (in his 3rd Allen film), Jeff Mazzola (of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Timothy Jerome (of HUSBANDS AND WIVES), Peter Castellotti (in his 5th Allen film), Barbara Hollander (of EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU), David S. Howard (of CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS), Brian McConnachie (in his 3rd Allen project), Hy Anzell (in his 5th Allen film), John Doumanian (in his 10th Allen project), Kenneth Edelson (in his 4th Allen film), Paul Giamatti (of MIGHTY APHRODITE), Martin Chatinover (in his 3rd Allen film), Waltrudis Buck (of EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU), Daisy Prince (of EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU), Peter McRobbie (in his 4th Allen film), Dan Moran (of MIGHTY APHRODITE), Ray Garvey (in his 3rd Allen film), Tony Sirico (in his 4th Allen film) and Julie Louis-Dreyfus (of HANNAH AND HER SISTERS).   Among the newbies are Kirstie Alley, Richard Benjamin (who was in the 1975 film of THE SUNSHINE BOYS), Eric Bogosian, Billy Crystal, Hazelle Goodman, Amy Irving, Eric Lloyd, Tobey Maguire, Demi Moore, Elisabeth Shue, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Garner, Gene Saks and Robin Williams (out-of-focus). Putting Robin Williams, and then later Allen, out of focus marks HARRY as Allen's first use of CGI by ILM. This is also the first Allen film where interior car scenes are done in the studio. While many have noted similarities in this film to Ingmar Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES and Federico Fellini's 8 1/2, it seems to me that the use of jump-cuts again shows the influence of Jean Luc Godard. But, ultimately, it seems to me that HARRY is Allen finally getting the original idea of ANHEDONIA right - even more so than STARDUST MEMORIES. Roger Ebert suggests that the title character in this film is based on Philip Roth rather than Woody Allen. If you've ever wanted to see a Star Wars themed Bar Mitzvah, this is the movie for you. Reportedly, Allen didn't want to play the lead in this film and unsuccessfully offered it to Albert Brooks, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Hopper, Elliot Gould and Jack Nicholson. Allen wrote that he felt that MIGHTY APHRODITE was dirtier than he liked and would like to do it again to clean it up. DECONSTRUCTING HARRY has more female nudity - with all those tortured souls in Hell - and more obscene language. The distribution deal with Miramax came to an end and HARRY is distributed by Fine Line Features, which is part of New Line Cinema, which is owned by Warner Bros.


WILD MAN BLUES (1997) - Famously, Woody Allen plays clarinet in a Jazz band every Monday night at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan. He used it as an excuse to not attend the Academy Awards in 1978 when ANNIE HALL won Best Picture. In 1996, "Eddie Davis, our true leader and first-rate banjo player suggested we go on a concert tour of Europe... It was decided, I believe by Jean Doumanian, we would document this tour. Jean hired one of filmdom's finest documentarians, Barbara Kopple... The result was WILD MAN BLUES, and predictably, despite my playing, Kopple made a really good documentary." This film offers a peek at Allen's private life, and many were struck by the sight of his young wife, Soon-Yi, seeming to boss him around. "It's true Soon-Yi has a very large and strong personality and does all the deciding on matters that impact our lives like where we live, how many children, what friends we see, how we spend our money, but I'm still the boss regarding any decisions about space travel." Naturally, when Allen arrives in Italy and is nearly crushed by paparzzi, Nino Rota music from 8 1/2, AMACORD, LA DOLCE VITA and THE WHITE KNIGHT can be heard on the soundtrack. Allen comments on how he is to get an award that wasn't given to Federico Fellini and how can he take it seriously if they didn't honor the better filmmaker. At the end, Allen, Soon-Yi and Allen's sister Letty Aronson visit Allen's parents to drop off all of the awards and medals which they keep for him. Allen's mother comments on how his movies are not autobiographical. Another film from Magnolia Productions, Inc, and Sweetwater Films, B.V., J.E. Beaucaire gets executive producer credit while Jean Doumanian is the producer. John Doumanian is recognizable from his many appearances in other Allen films, so it would seem the Nora Ephron looking woman was Jean. This was the second Allen related film to be distributed by Fine Line Features.

ANTZ (1998) - It would be fun to be able to say that this computer animated film reunited Woody Allen with some of the performers from his old films, but voice actors tend to do their stuff alone in a recording booth. Still, this project brought together Gene Hackman of ANOTHER WOMAN, Paul Mazursky of SCENES FROM A MALL, Sylvester Stallone of BANANAS, Sharon Stone of STARDUST MEMORIES and Christopher Walker of ANNIE HALL. Allen had made SCENES FROM A MALL for Disney at the behest of Jeffrey Katzenberg. Now Katzenberg helped to create DreamWorks Animation and Allen participated in a project which had the biggest box office returns of his career. With a role obviously tailored to Allen's persona - even including an opening and closing reminiscent of MANHATTAN, it is difficult to believe that he didn't so some of the writing. However, the writing was credited to Todd Alcott and Chris & Paul Weitz which included the sardonic humor and social commentary frequently heard in Allen movies. With a message celebrating individualism even for the collective good, the film also features nightmarish images including a battle between soldier ants and termites to is reminiscent of STARSHIP TROOPERS. Eric Darnell, who went on to do MADAGASCAR, and Tim Johnson, who went on to do SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS, directed. If you've been waiting to hear Woody Allen sing "Almost Like Being In Love", this is the movie for you. There was also a spoof of the dance scene from PULP FICTION.

SWEET AND LOWDOWN (1999) - I did not know when I started watching this that it was another faux documentary like TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN and that Emmet Ray was a fictional character. While there were a number of hilarious scenes, this film was more drama than comedy and was another portrait of a man unable to commit to a stable relationship with a woman. Some like to believe this was inspired by director Federico Fellini's LA STRADA, probably because the mute woman played beautifully by Samantha Morton seemed simple-minded, but the films were very different and Allen went for the bittersweet, not the tragic. Sean Penn gave a wonderful performance and had none of the neurotic bits which made John Cusack in BULLETS OVER BROADWAY and so many of the other actors in movies not featuring Woody Allen in the lead role seemingly doing Allen impressions. If you weren't previously aware of Django Reinhardt, this movie will inform you about him. Reportedly, this film began as a script called THE JAZZ BABY, which Allen wrote right after TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN. But United Artists wanted a comedy and so BANANAS came to be. Reportedly, Sweetwater Films informed Allen that he had to make the film with a smaller budget, but most of his crew stayed intact. Film editor Susan E. Morse was replaced by Alisa Lepselter, who had been an assistant to Thelma Schoonmaker, and Allen hired Chinese director of photography Zhao Fei, who had shot RAISE THE RED LANTERN. Again Dick Hyman did an amazing job pulling all of the divergent musical elements together. While not as  sprawling as the casts for Allen's last two films, SWEET AND LOWDOWN featured a number of notables including Uma Thurman, Dan Moran (in his 4th Allen film), Tony Darrow (in his 5th Allen film), Vince Giordano (after working on the music for 4 previous Allen films, he finally gets on camera), William Addy (in his 4th Allen film), John Waters, Dick Mingalone (who was the camera operator on 19 Allen projects before appearing on camera in CELEBRITY and now making bird sounds in SWEET), Eddy Davis (of Allen's monday night jazz band), Ralph Pope (in his 3rd Allen film),  Kenneth Edelson (in his 6th Allen film), Ray Garvey (in his 4th Allen film), Simon Wettenhall (also of Allen's monday night jazz band), Anthony LaPaglia and Brad Garrett. There was a new group of repeaters from CELEBRITY including Gary Cowling, Josh Mowery, Trish McGettrick, Adam Sietz, Douglas McGrath, Rick Mowat and Gretchen Mol. While the film was not another release from Tri-Star, it was distributed by sister group Sony Classics.

SMALL TIME CROOKS (2000) - After the success of ANTZ, DreamWorks Pictures offered Woody Allen a contract for three comedies. If he wanted to do a serious film, he could look elsewhere. After talking about his work as a gag writer, Allen wrote, "The only other occupation that ever interested me was a life of crime, a gambler, a hustler, a con man and I got to play a petty criminal in my movie comedy, SMALL TIME CROOKS." At first this seemed to be the story of a plan to rob a bank by digging a tunnel from the basement of a nearby business. Inorder to make the nearby business look legit, criminal mastermind Woody Allen got wife Tracey Ullman to pretend to run a cookie shop. The tunnel heist came to an end when the cookie shop became an huge and popular success. Becoming filthy rich, Ullman decided that she also wanted respectability, and asked art dealer Hugh Grant to teach her about the finer things in life. Grant saw Ullman as an easy mark and brought about a rupture in her marriage to Allen. The ending was predictable and I would have prefered if they showed how the other members of the gang - Tony Darrow (in his 6th Allen film), Jon Lovitz and Michael Rapaport (of MIGHTY APHRODITE) - reacted to the turn of events, but finally Allen was only really interested in the love story. Other cast members included George Grizzard, Elaine May, Elaine Stritch (of SEPTEMBER), Carolyn Saxon (of SWEET AND LOWDOWN), Crystal Field (in her 3rd Allen film), Ray Garvey (in his 5th Allen film), Olivia Hayman (of EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU), Brian Markinson (of SWEET AND LOWDOWN), Steve Kroft (of 60 Minutes), Brian McConnachie (in his 6th Allen project), Riccardo Bertoni (of ANNIE HALL), John Doumanian (in his 12th Allen project), Phyllis Burdoe (of DECONSTRUCTING HARRY), Julie Halston (in her 3rd Allen film), Peter McRobbie (in his 8th Allen film), Douglas McGrath (in his 3rd Allen film), Howard Erskine (in his 4th Allen film), Kenneth Edelson (in his 7th Allen film), Ira Wheeler (in his 9th Allen film), William Hill (of The Sunshine Boys), Scotty Bloch (in his 3rd Allen film), Marvin Chatinover (in his 4th Allen film) and Kevin Kean Murphy (of DECONSTRUCTING HARRY). Back in a New York City milieu, there are repeaters from CELEBRITY including: Bill Gerber, Isaac Mizrahi, Larry Pine, Maurice Sonnenberg, Richard Mawe and Ramsey Faragallah. There was alot of old recordings used on the soundtrack, but no new work from Dick Hyman.

Mildly enjoyed:

CELEBRITY (1998) - Here's the answer to the trivia question, "In which Woody Allen movie did Donald Trump appear?" What was the deal to get permission to shoot at the Trump Marina Casino in Atlantic City? Originally the place was built to be The Atlantic City Hilton, but Hilton Hotels was denied a gambling license due to alleged ties to organized crime. Donald Trump bought the place and opened it in 1985 as Trump's Castle. The name was changed in 1997, went into bankruptcy in 2009 and was finally sold to Landry's 2011. It is now the Golden Nugget Atlantic City. I would like a book detailing the business deals behind Allen's films. Why did Sven Nykvist, who reportedly was going blind, return to shoot this film instead of Carlo Di Palma? Reportedly, the reason that this was the last film Susan E. Morse edited for Allen was that producer Jean Doumanian cut his budget on his next film. That also resulted in many of his regular crew not returning. Is that why he never worked with Di Palma or Nykvist again? As CELEBRITY featured Leonardo DiCaprio so soon after TITANIC, many felt that this would be be the next breakout hit for Allen, which maybe why Miramax Films stepped in distribute it. It wasn't, and even usually supportive critics gave it poor notices. Ostensibly about how current society's obsession with celebrity is eroding its moral values, the film only really makes that point when movie star DiCaprio's arrest for trashing his hotel room and threatening to kill girlfriend Gretchen Mol is undone because the hotel doesn't want to prosecute and the girlfriend decides to forgive him. The gag of this scene is that screenwriter Kenneth Branagh is trying to have a meeting with DiCaprio during this melee figuring that if he can get the star attached he can sell his script. Branagh ends up getting dragged to Atlantic City to see a boxing match and finally into DiCaprio's bed, where instead of having sex with Lorri Bagley, he wants to make a deal on the script. DiCaprio's entourage includes such future stars as Adrian Grenier (six years before the HBO show Entourage) and Sam Rockwell (three years before CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND) as well as Allen's friend John Doumanian (in his 12th Allen project). While Allen comments that MIGHTY APHRODITE is too dirty for him, and DECONSTRUCTING HARRY is actually more dirty, CELEBRITY is one of the sexiest films Allen has made - and I'm not including the scene where prostitute Bebe Neuwirth uses a banana to instruct Judy Davis on oral sex. Alot of that has to do with the attractive women Allen has hired to continually distract Branagh from fidelity, including: Melanie Griffith, Winona Ryder, Charlize Theron and Famke Janssen. The title of this film and comments made about the effect of celebrity on society do not really factor into the plot of this movie, which is Branagh breaking up his marriage with Davis because of a mid-life crisis - which Allen dealt with better in MANHATTAN and HUSBANDS AND WIVES. While Branagh fails to better his life after the breakup, Davis becomes a TV celebrity with a fabulous new husband, Joe Mantegna. While Branagh seems to be doing a Woody Allen impersonation in this film, Davis sometimes also seems to be doing one. In his 60s, Allen must have felt that he was too old to be playing a character in his 40s, but it doesn't help the movie when his main actors seem to be mirroring him. Also in the cast are Jeff Mazzola (in his 3rd Allen film), Dick Mingalone (who was the camera operator on 19 Allen projects before this on-screen apperance as a camera operator), Dan Moran (in his 3rd Allen film), Peter Castellotti (in his 7th Allen film), A. Lee Morris (who worked in the camera department on 3 Allen projects before this on-screen appearance as a Second Assistant Cameraperson), Douglas McGrath (the co-writer of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Tommie Baxter (of EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU), Kathleen Doyle (of MIGHTY APHRODITE), Jodi Long (of ALICE), Peter McRobbie (in his 6th Allen film), J.K. Simmons, Isaac Mizrahi, Brian McConnachie (in his 5th Allen project), Daisy Prince (in her 3rd Allen film), Dayle Haddon (of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Michael Lerner, Julie Halston (of MIGHTY APHRODITE), Renee Lippin (in her 3rd Allen film), Debra Messing, Andre Gregory, Skip Rose (of DON'T DRINK THE WATER), Alicia Meer (of DECONSTRUCTION HARRY), Michael Kell (of ZELIG), Frederick Rolf (in his 4th Allen project), William Addy (in his 3rd Allen film), Tony Sirico (in his 5th Allen film), Kenneth Edelson (in his 5th Allen film), Frank Pellegrino (of MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY), Gabriel Millman (of EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU), Timothy Jerome (in his 4th Allen film), Steven Randazzo (in his 4th Allen film), John Costelloe (of MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY), Bruce Jay Friedman (in his 3rd Allen film), Hank Azaria, Ralph Pope (of DECONSTRUCTING HARRY), Tony Darrow (in his 4th Allen film), Victor Colicchio (of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Allison Janney, Howard Erskine (in his 3rd Allen film), Ray Cohen (of DECONSTRUCTING HARRY), Aida Turturro (of MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY), Jeffrey Wright, Karen Duffy and Tony Tedesco (of CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS). 

SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU (2011) - The YA novel by Peter Cameron was successful, so perhaps I'm not the intended audience for this movie. I've seen other movies about disaffected rich young men toying with suicide and unable to connect with other people, but HAROLD AND MAUDE was fun. This isn't, even with Aubrey Plaza popping up midway through the movie for an odd tangent that comes to nothing. Toby Regbo plays the young man, Marcia Gay Harden is his mother, Stephen Lang is his new stepfather who blew over $6,000.00 of her money gambling on the honeymoon and is now persona non gratis, Peter Gallagher is his father who is having plastic surgery and wonders if Toby is gay, Deborah Ann Woll (of the Daredevil Netflex series) is his sister who is having an affair with her married university professor, Ellen Bustyn is his loving grandmother and Lucy Liu is the psychotherapist/life coach who imparts wisdom to our hero. Why Italian director Roberto Faenza decided to make a movie of this novel, mostly financed by Italy but shot mostly in New York City in English, is probably more interesting than the resultant movie, which is obvious and dull.

Unsung Presents: Music and the Movement #1 "The Struggle" (2021)

Unsung Presents: Music and the Movement #2 "The Reckoning" (2021)

Did not enjoy:

THE IMPOSTORS (1998) - For his second directoral effort, Stanley Tucci got Woody Allen to make an uncredited appearance. Perhaps this was a favor in light of Tucci having just appeared in DECONSTRUCTING HARRY. The film opens like a silent film showing Tucci and Oliver Platt at an outdoor cafe which ends with them having a knife fight. Presumably, the fight is their way of getting out of paying the check, but if one of them is supposed to die at the end of the fight, then how does the dead guy get away? Like alot of bits in this madcap unfunny farce, this is never explained. Wanna be actors, Tucci and Platt are thrilled when they audition for a man, Allen, who promises them parts in his new play financed by his wife. Allen just needs them to play the scene inorder to decide which part goes to which actor. In the middle of the audition, the telephone rings and it is Allen's wife telling him that she's running off with another man and that she's pulling the financing. So, our heroes don't get to begin their acting careers. They decide to try and con baker David Lipman out of some food, but end up with tickets to see Alfred Molina in HAMLET. After the performance, Tucci and Platt are in a bar ridiculing Molina, when Molina walks in and provokes a fight. Accused of assault, our heroes run from the cops and hide in a shipping crate on the docks. When they awake in the morning, they find that the crate is aboard a luxury liner. While trying to pass as stewards, our heroes discover that Molina is also on the ship, as well as a foreign agent, Tony Shalhoub, planning to kidnap a deposed queen, Isabella Rossellini, before blowing the ship up; a pair of assassins, Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney, planning to murder two other passengers, Teagle F. Bougere and Dana Ivey; and a suicidal crooner, Steve Buscemi, that awakens Hope Davis from her depression. Writer/director Tucci completely fails to make a funny movie, but with co-producer Elizabeth W. Alexander succeeds in gathering together an exceptional cast. Not previously mentioned in this blurb are Lili Taylor, Billy Connolly and Campbell Scott. Setting the film sometime in the past and filling the soundtrack with jazz music begs for this film to be compared to a Woody Allen film, and the comparison makes the movie seem even worse.

COMPANY MAN (2000) - In 1994, Douglas McGrath collaborated with Woody Allen on BULLETS OVER BROADWAY and shared a nomination for Best Screenplay. In 1997, he wrote and directed EMMA starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Alan Cumming and was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award. In 2000, he collaborated with Off-Broadway producer Peter Askin to write and direct this incredibly unfunny CIA comedy and got Woody Allen to play a small role as a favor. After the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba fiasco, Senator Jeffrey Jones holds an hearing and demands CIA agent Paul Guilfoyle explain what happened. Guilfoyle says that only Douglas McGrath knows the whole story. McGrath testifies and reveals that he was a grammar teacher who told his father-in-law and his wife Sigourney Weaver that he was secretly a CIA agent inorder for them to stop trying to be push him to be more ambitious. Weaver spreads the story around, so when Russian ballet star Ryan Phillippe decides to defect, he jumps into a car in which McGrath was trying to give a driving lesson to Heather Matarazzo. Later, when Guilfoyle shows up at McGrath's home to tell him that impersonating a CIA agent is illegal, McGrath says that if they make him an agent then the CIA can take the credit for Phillippe's defection. The CIA like the offer, make him an agent, and send him to a posting where nothing is going on - Cuba. Station chief Woody Allen assures McGrath that nothing is going on, even though agent John Turturro keeps sounding the alarm about a coming revolution headed by Fidel Castro, played by Anthony LaPaglia. McGrath is happy to be away from Weaver, but she shows up just as General Batista, played by Alan Cumming, seeks shelter in McGrath's house. Turturro wants to kill Castro, but McGrath keeps suggesting non-violent efforts - which runs down the list of CIA dirty tricks attempted in real life including LSD in his drinking water and shampoo to make him go bald. McGrath plays American music on an American radio broadcast into Cuba, which the fellows back at Langley mistake as a coded message to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. After a botched attempt to give Castro some poison cigars while our heroes try to lip sync to a performance by Danny and the Lifeguards - if you've been waiting to see Woody Allen pretend to play the saxophone this is the movie for you, McGrath and Turturro escape to Florida, just in time for Turturro to join the invasion force. In the end, President John F. Kennedy, played by Tuck Milligan, orders the CIA to send McGrath someplace safe and far away. And so he lands in Vietnam. Released by Paramount Classics, McGrath's film shows that others can make movies that lose more money than Woody Allen's movies do. McGrath went on to make NICHOLAS NICKLEBY with Anne Hathaway and make INFAMOUS with Toby Jones as Truman Capote.

PLAYBACK (1996) - Jodi Thelen began her film career under the direction of the celebrated Arthur Penn as the romantic object of three guys in FOUR FRIENDS. Unfortunately, that film flopped so badly that Thelen hung on by playing small roles in minor films like this Playboy Production starring Tawny Kitaen, whose career peeked in 1984. Director Oley Sassone should get some notoriety for being able to make a skin flick with Kitaen, Thelen and Shannon Whirry that lacks a single erotic moment. Kitaen has an extended bed scene, but is becomes obvious that when you see her face, you don't see naughty bits, and when you see naughty bits, you don't see her face - aka body double. Harry Dean Stanton shows up as a private detective hired by Whirry to ruin Kitaen's husband, Charles Grant, in George Hamilton's company. Not surprisingly, Kitaen and Grant win out in the end.

DOS CABALLEROS DE ESPADA (1964) - I've not seen a Mexican swashbuckler before, and this one isn't very good. However, star Rodolfo de Anda looks better in these costumes for the 1600s than he does in "cowboy garb" in LA VENGANZA DEL DIABLO. Again the film is produced by daddy Raul de Anda and brother Raul de Anda Jr. Arturo Martinez dully directs the proceedings with poor fight choreography, though the torture dungeon seems more vivid than in most films like this. Evil Ofelia Montesco joins villain Germán Robles in a plot to kidnap and marry Ariadne Welter. They also kidnap and torture her mother, Rosa Mª Gallardo, to get her to agree. Luckily, de Anda and his father, Dagoberto Rodriguez, are master swordsmen and they come to the rescue.


Charles Gilbert watched:

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987) Cosmic disappointment from Golan-Globus starring TED talk alum Dolph Lungren as He-man. He never becomes alter-ego Adam, and has no pet tiger Cringer/Battlecat. Much of the action takes place in contemporary California rather than Eternia and other extraterrestrial locations. Makeup for Skeletor (Frank Langella) leaves much improvement. The eyes should have been darkened.

Masters of the Universe animated Episode 57  'Castle of Heroes'. Filmation producer Lou Scheimer offers more enjoyable viewing than the raucous big screen film.

REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960) One slave of many herded on the streets of Rome tries to escape, and for punishment his hands are cut off. Immediately another slave named Vibeo (Lang Jeffries) attempts the same, and is rescued by a wealthy patrician to be household servant, wherein lives beautiful but smugly priviledged daughter Fabiola (Rhonda Fleming). Her cousin Agnese (Wandisa Guida) is secretly meeting with Christians whose faith is spreading and becoming a perceived menace resulting in outlawry. Among the furtive brethren are trusted high ranking tribune Sebastiano (Ettore Manni). Mercenary Corvino (Serge Gainsbourg) schemes to hunt and persecute them with Iface (Vanoye Aiken) commanding a contingent of black African guards who carry out his plans.

Fall Guy television episode 3x02 'Trauma'. Howie (Douglas Barr) and Jodie (Heather Thomas) are seriously injured in a stunt driving Colt Seavers' (Lee Majors) pickup truck while shooting for stunt coordinator William Bryant. The cast fromTrauma Center (James Naughton, Lou Ferrigno, and Alfie Wise) make the run for rescue.

David Deal enjoyed:

BOOKSELLERS (20) - Interesting documentary on the New York rare book world, or what's left of it.

Mildly enjoyed:

POSSESSOR (20) - Hired killers can inhabit the bodies of others to pull off their hits.  As you can imagine, the process is more complicated than it's worth.  Ambitious but muddled sci-fi from Brandon Cronenberg.

WHITE FIRE (53) - Seaman Scott Brady arrives in London and looks up his brother only to discover that he's about to be executed for murder.  Breezy criminal conspiracy tale with a light and likeable performance from the leading man.  Directed by John Gilling.

PASSPORT TO TREASON (53) - Summoned to London by an old friend, private eye Rod Cameron discovers him dead, so he picks up the pieces of the man's current case and bludgeons his way to the truth.  Somewhat atmospheric underworld mystery never rises beyond adequate entertainment.  Features Lois Maxwell and a young John Colicos.

THE DEVIL IN SILK (56) - Struggling composer Curd Jurgens finds himself in trouble when his estranged wife, wealthy, overbearing Lili Palmer, is found dead.  Not uninteresting soap opera told in flashbacks that will please a certain few, I suppose.


Bertrand Van Wonterghem Highly enjoyed:

Carry on nurse (1958, Gerald Thomas)

Black books – season 2 – episode 2

WandaVision – season 1 – episodes 1 & 2

Il grande silenzio ( 1968, Sergio Corbucci)


Dorohedoro OVA (2019)

There will be blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)

Uchu kara no messeji : ginga taisen / San Ku Kai (1979) – episode 12

Ghosts – season 2 – episode 5

Frank Capra : il était une fois l’Amérique (doc) ( 2020, Dimitri Kourtchine)

The outer limits – episode « the special one » (1964, Gerd Oswald)

Swedish dicks – season 1 – episodes 4 & 5

Wonder Woman – season 2 - episode « Ansschluss’ 77 » (1977, Alan Crosland Jr)

Sweet home – episode 2

Le soleil des voyous (1967, Jean Delannoy)

Mildly enjoyed:

Tinerete fara batrînete / Kingdom in the clouds (1969, Elisabeta Bostan)

Did not enjoy:

Lupin – season 1 – episodes 2 to 5

Switch (2011, Frédéric Schoendoerffer)

Wonder woman 1984 (2020, Patty Jenkins) BUT highly enjoyed the appearance of Lynda Carter after  the cast of characters


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