The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
Slick 70s heist movie with a fantastic soundtrack.
The premise is that four similarly dressed gentlemen who refer to each other by colors (Mr. Blue etc, sound familiar?) take over a subway train car. They demand one million dollars in an hour and will kill a civilian for each minute the city is late on payment. Walter Matthau is an MTA cop who has to piece it all together and bring these crooks DOWN! Hector Elizondo and Robert Shaw (from Jaws. god he’s amazing) play two of the criminals and they tear it up.
When I wrote ‘slick’ earlier I meant that everyone in this movie has style and attitude. This is dirty 70s New York City full of pimps and drug dealers. It’s a town where children laugh when bad guys brandish guns and one old lady is so nonplussed she sleeps through the whole thing. Fabulous.
Perfect for late nights, rainy days and when you’re feeling under the weather.
I will not give the remake the time of day.
This is a Hulu movie, not a netflix, but I feel like we can start opening this up to other streaming platforms, yeah?
Watched this documentary on Hulu yesterday. The subject is Marian Anderson, the lead singer of InSaints, who became notorious in 1993 for incorporating her dominatrix work into her live performances. I found this especially interesting in contrast to Karen Finley, who was censored for using her body to communicate the plight of powerless women. Marian Anderson lived both sides of that and I found myself conflicted by feeling inspired and overwhelmed by her tragedy.
Obsessively googling her after watching this documentary, I found Sadobabies, a 30 minute documentary short by a folklorist named Nancy Kalow. It features a group of San Francisco street kids in the mid-80s who live in an abandoned high school. Marian Anderson is one of those kids and you can watch here.
Sidenote: very excited about discovering folkstreams.net
And there is a follow up to Sadobabies called Losers Club that catches up with some of the kids five years later. Watch it here.
So all weekend I’ve been thinking about these kids who don’t have anywhere to go and still find it in themselves pursue their dreams and express themselves and I want to do something.
The Man Who Fell To Earth(1976):
This movie mad me saaaaad. It follows a (kind of) similar story line as Bowie’s 1972 concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, so it’s territory he’s familiar with. In this movie, David Bowie is an alien who fell to earth, a space oddity on a quest to replenish the water supply of his dying planet and save his alien family. Along the way he patents tons of alien ideas, he makes a lot of money, he gets sidetracked and depressed by our typical earthly woes: sex, alcohol, and church.You hope he’ll make it home one day… but will he? Watch to find out.
Also, what’s with the obsession with David Bowie’s nipples in this movie?
Bonus feature: Rip Torn’s penis.
David Fincher’s 1997 psychological thriller about a super duper rich asshole —pretty much Michael Douglass reprising Gordon Gekko, his Oscar winning role from 1987’s Wall Street— who gets stuck in a real life game where his life is always at risk but I never really feel bad for him because he is so rich. It seems like the kind of movie that should have a moral to it, but it really doesn’t. I’d say this movie is definitely worth a gander.
No, this is not a fantasy movie about a handsome hero who slays monsters to save a beautiful lady. Quite the opposite. It’s a documentary by Tristan Patterson about a California skate-rat, Josh “Skreech” Sandoval. Skreech has no money and no home and people take care of him because he is an alright skater but he has no real ambition. He is what you would call “drug addled”. He skates the empty pools of foreclosed homes, sad and lost in an America ripe with depression. He has a pretty 18 year old girlfriend who smokes weed and doesn’t talk much, everyone wants to know, “What is she doing with him?”. Perhaps it’s just a phase for her.
Play Misty for Me:
Women are SO crazy, right? Clint Eastwood has bacne.
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life-
Not a documentary! This is basically a French musical film about Serge’s life (with actors singing Gainsbourg songs). The magical/fantasy/very silly aspect of the film features a huge puppet called “his mug” (because he’s ugly but really it represents his sexy, cool ego). Best part is Gainsbourg cuddling a dog in the nude. Worst part is that the actress playing Bardot did NOT have a gap in her teeth. Lots of tobacco use.
The Lady Vanishes:
1930s Alfred Hitchcock. Difficult to understand all of the old-timey accents at first. Unsure who the protagonist is until 45 minutes in. Unsure if it was a comedy. Some boring parts (probably just a generational thing). The movie got enjoyable once the lady FINALLY vanished (too far into the movie). The last shot of the movie is a hilarious one.
Who knew smoking crack was so sexy? Just kidding. Um, hottie Ryan Gosling is a cocaine addicted teacher at an inner city middle school. He is not a heroic figure who changes these kids’ lives, we are not talking about Keanu Reeves in Hard Ball. This guy in Half Nelson is totally fucked up. A lovely Broken Social Scene soundtrack over the whole thing, which kept me totally interested since I listened to them nonstop in high school.
OH MY GOD. Parker Posey is a NYC party girl (24 and unemployed— just like me!) who has to get a job in a stinky old library. She has a crush on a hot Lebanese falafel street vendor. She dances. She has endless incredible outfits. She learns the Dewey Decimal System. Girls and gays will love this movie.
Kind of new to Netflix Instant is Fishing with John, a TV show that aired briefly in the early 1990’s on IFC and Bravo. Remember John Lurie, the musician/actor? I remember him most from the too cool for school Jim Jarmusch movie Stranger than Paradise. He was also interviewed in that too cool for school documentary Blank City (also on Instant Netflix) about a time in New York’s history (late 70s-early 80s) that was, simply put, too cool for school.
In this delightful TV series John takes his too cool for school guests out on fishing adventures. Guests include: Jim Jarmusch, Tom Waits, Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon (1980s too cool for school heartthrob), and Dennis Hopper. The show is classically narrated like an informative nature documentary with occasional remarks that fall on the side of “both men have boners”. The cinematography feels “late night” or “public access” or “too cool for school”. Nothing is left out. Tom Waits gets sea sick in Jamaica, so John and Tom take a gambling and whiskey break, and finally after all that he agrees to try fishing again at which point he puts a fish in his underwear. After the filming of that episode, Waits didn’t talk to John for two whole years. Not a single person in this series has any idea how to fish.
Ultimately, if you like any of the guys mentioned in this review, or, like me, you admire a time when people were just naturally too cool for school, then you will enjoy this funny show.
Not only did I not realize that Eames was actually two people-a vivacious husband and wife design team- I also didn’t realize it was spelled E-A-M-E-S. I always figured Eames was some weird French expatriate who’s name was spelled, like, Hemerez or something. I thought this because I am not the type of person for whom the phrase “very important chair“ rolls off the tongue freely, without irony. Also because I have no understanding of how the French language works. I have been vaguely familiar with Eames for a while because I am the only person in my life who feels this way. Literally. Even my seventeen-year-old brother gets giddy at the mention of an estate sale and has spent his high school career trying to amass a rug collection. It’s not that I don’t care, or that I dream of being surrounded in trash. I don’t want to live in a boring white walled apartment with no art sitting in chairs from Wal-mart. It’s just that when I move past the phase of casually admiring a piece decorative art to analyzing it, I get the urge to jump off a low hipped roof. The fact is that these are luxury items, designed for and by a certain class of people, like it or not, and I just can’t get myself to worship furniture. Even if it’s extraordinary. Even if I want it. And absolutely no one agrees with me, and that’s okay.
But anyway, Charles and Ray Eames were basically the coolest people who ever lived. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to have relationship these two had at the beginning of their marriage. They started working together and falling in love at the same time, equal partners in love and work.
But of course the world kind of treated Ray like shit, because the bad ‘50’s people couldn’t comprehend a creative partnership like theirs. There is a clip in this movie that will make your skin crawl, in which Charles and Ray are being interviewed about their business, and she has to stand BEHIND her husband as the interviewer tries to grapple with the idea of a man and a woman sharing work. You can see the wheels turning in the (female) interviewers head before she comes to the conclusion that Ray is Charles’ helper, she doesn’t do any designing but she’s still very important. Here is one of the most important designers of the 20th century being tarted up and presented as one of Santa’s elves. It’s so fucking gross.
I don’t know if I’m going to flag this one as a favorite, that title is reserved for the true masterpieces: Scream 2, Scream 3, etc., but I do recommend it. It’s good, it’s pretty to look at, and it’s inspiring. It’s the Oprah.com of documentaries. Watch it!
So we are trying something a little different with Vicki, our new contributor. We both watched this documentary and gchatted about it. Here’s the transcript.
Vicki: The Woodmans.
Irene: OK Let’s talk
Vicki: …this documentary made me consider yet again how at times the job of a documentary filmmaker is very morally ambiguous. In this case, having parents relive the pain and guilt associated with the suicide of their young daughter Francesca. But, also, oddly the (hinted at) jealousy of Francesa for being the most successful artist in the family.
Irene: right! Also it makes you wonder where you draw the line between being an artist and being a parent.
Vicki: Oh my god, Irene. It made me uneasy.
Irene: me too
Vicki: They seemed to question the way they raised the children—emphasizing that there was nothing more important in life than art!
Irene: She was their creation. I went back and forth with how I felt about her parents
Vicki: SPOILERS: But, then! After her suicide her father begins taking photographs in the same vein as hers. That was very eerie to me.
Irene: to me as well. I tried to find something cathartic in it for him but it seemed like he was in suspended animation trying to understand her or see things the way she did.
Vicki: Yes. My opinion of them changed and changed. And I wondered if that was because of the filmmakers manipulation of their interviews or just them.
She was their creation!
Irene: Well I don’t know how much I thought the filmmakers were manipulating my response to them more than anyone who makes something is showing you what they want you to see. It seemed like a fair and multifaceted portrait of them - who knows really.
Vicki: Yeah. I read that they did not attend the movie premier, which I can understand not wanting to watch themselves explain their daughter’s art and suicide in front of an audience.
Irene: I was glad they talked about her suicide and I was glad the father said things like “I made it to 72, that’s something I did that Francesca didn’t” (paraphrasing obviously) - it was bitter and sad and confident all at the same time.
No, I wouldn’t want to go to that premiere either.
Vicki: yes, you’re right. And in terms of Francesca’s photographs, I really enjoyed them
Irene: me too! they are incredible!! But if she were your daughter wouldn’t you be like “hey, are you ok?”
Vicki: Yeah I don’t know, they are beautiful and fascinating but here’s a 15 year old girl taking nude photos of herself, distorting her face or hiding in the wallpaper. I think her parents chose not to see them as autobiographical. And, I think her friends and family thought she was fine as long as she was photographing. I think it was when she didn’t make it as a fashion photographer in NYC, she was like, “Well what the fuck do I do now?”
Irene: well, remember those pictures she took when she was a young teen of the clothes pins on herself?
Vicki: yes. crazy
Irene: and how her friend said she was scared for her when she saw them? I mean, that’s an intense thing to do.
Vicki: yes! you’re right!
Irene: and this isn’t a facebook/youtube culture where people are constantly discovering themselves by broadcasting. The mom said she worried her daughter had narcissistic tendencies, remember?
Irene: It’s just strange and it’s so beautiful but it also seems neglectful on the part of her parents. Is that wrong that I think that?
Vicki: No, I think parents who didn’t look for the art in everything would question her motives. in that way, they are very optimistic. and at times I found myself jealous of her freedom to express herself as a teenager. I think most teenagers have a really hard time, and she didn’t hold anything back
Her parents are optimistic or in denial.
Irene: maybe a little of both.
But didn’t you love those people as parents? and her?
Vicki: Oh totally. I think they did the best they knew how and i think if things had gone differently, it would be without a doubt, “what a cool way to raise your child, to teach them there is no shame in expressing yourself through art.”
Irene: If Francesca didn’t cast such a shadow you could say that about Christopher. It could still be a great documentary about this family of successful artists. Nice people.
Vicki: yes, real nice people
Irene: but Francesca adds this whole other element and exposes all this ugliness
Vicki: yeah. the parents never fought, everyone was happy, she got along with her brother. but there was this whole thing about her never finishing a school year, always moving around and about. maybe always feeling like a stranger, which perhaps allowed her to be so comfortable showing herself as an artist with pride, literally naked
someone in the documentary said she had a rockstar quality and i was all like, “yup”
Irene: totally. Vicki! I have to go. I’m sorry
Vicki: bye shyreese