Cinema Penitentiary Diary – July 14-21

  1. At Gunpoint Either we’ve got some damned good naturalistic acting here or the actors don’t give a shit about the movie and are just walking through the scenes in their own skins. Although “At Gunpoint” has been dismissed as a “High Noon” remake, its concerns are not at all the same as the Gary Cooper picture. Most significantly, Fred MacMurray is not the marshal and does not ask the townspeople for help when the outlaws come gunning for him.  In fact, he sympathizes with their fear of getting caught in the crossfire and killed.
  1. Payroll This 1961 British heist picture, on the other hand, is pretty much a rip-off of Kubrick’s 1956 “The Killing,” which is not in itself a bad thing. In fact, “Payroll” is right up there with 1951’s “Armored Car Robbery,” from which Kubrick stole more than a little.
  1. Scanners coming after Shivers, Rabid and The Brood, Scanners comes across as a little lame, but its actually a pretty decent “track down and kill the mutants” chase picture.
  1. Party Monster This is what happens when creepy little guys grow up with Warhol complexes, or when child stars such as Macaulay Culkin fail to an grow up at all. The insinuation of this sort of party culture into the nightlife underground makes this picture more sickening than “American Psycho.”   Lily and Eve Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez are two distraught mothers trying to come to terms with the murders of their sons.  They speed up the healing process by blowing away everyone associated with the killings.  I don’t know why so many people are hostile to Jennifer Lopez, who isn’t such a bad actress. “Lila and Eve,” though, is a terrible movie.

18 Teen Witch A key text that examines the negative effect of the Reagan Youth movement on feminism. The Witches The first half is a scary little fairy tale that proves to have some factual basis in the second part, in which the transformation of children into mice becomes interminable. Witchboard There are no witches anywhere in this one.  The culprit is an Ouija board, not a witch board. What is a witchboard anyway?

  1. Maya Unfortunately classified as a juvenile adventure story, “Maya” is an exciting and emotionally rich tale of an American boy’s trek across India after attempting a reconciliation with the father who abandoned him. Along the way, he partners with a newly orphaned Indian boy who has undertaken an impossible journey to fulfill his father’s last wish. A forgotten gem.  Death Becomes Her Before he became a wind-up action doll, Bruce Willis had displayed a rare gift for romantic comedy.  Were it not for the “Die Hard” franchise, he might have become another Cary Grant.  But he didn’t.  Instead, he devolved into a  sardonic hipster, wasted in the company of such non-entities as Quentin Tarentino, Frank Miller, and Michael Bay. Director Robert Zemeckis shows such adeptness at screwball comedy that one wonders what he might have accomplished had he not thrown away his career in fruitless  associations with the wealthy Steven Spielberg.
  1. Soaked in Bleach I am glad this mess of a movie was made, if only for the possibility that it might lead to the re-opening of the Kurt Cobain case. Courtney Love is unlikely to ever be convicted of her crimes, but an indictment for conspiracy to commit murder would be a step toward justice for  the most famous of her victims.  This film makes no mention of her other two victims, bassist  Kristen Pfaff  and singer/drummer Eldon Hoke, whose deaths were part of the Cobain cover-up.  One of the many problems with this expose is the uncharismatic presence of private detective Tom Grant, who dominates the picture, as well as the awkward use of actors to augment  archival footage of real people.  Run for the Sun A decent adventure movie featuring Richard Widmark and Jane Greer, who crash in a Mexican jungle where they are captured by Nazis.   Good performances and location shooting compensate for the weak screenplay.

21. Demons 5 Lamberta Bava’s sequel to his father’s “Mask of Satan” is a drag.  What do you expect from someone who gives the name “Demons” to all the movies he made after  “Demons,” no matter how tenuous their relationship to his one hit movie. Strangerland A pretentious bore of a picture about two kids who disappear in a dust storm.  Intimations of pedophilia and nymphomania fail to engage us on even the most prurient level. Date with an Angel is so bad that it makes “Splash” look good. Its only asset  is Emmanuelle Beart, but her most interesting piece of business is learning to walk. The screenplay sinks in a sea of undeveloped ideas, and Michael Knight is a total dud in the lead.

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3 thoughts on “Cinema Penitentiary Diary – July 14-21

  1. 15. Very interesting, I’d like to watch it. 20. I’m a fan of Nirvana and their influence of a decade. I never liked Courtney Love and was unaware that she was evil. I don’t read tabloids, so I didn’t know she had victims or was involved in a cover up. Yikes!

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  2. “Kurt and Courtney” is the better movie and presents more information., . I know some of the people involved, so the story is of some interest to me. For instance, I used to do some shows with Eldon Hoke, who was found dead on the train tracks after blabbing that Courtney had offered him $30,000 to murder Kurt. And Kristen Pfaff, bassst for Hole, was found dead in the bathtub the morning after she called her family and said things were getting weird in Seattle and she was coming home the next day, saying she couldn’t talk over the phone but would tell the whole story once she was safely home.

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