Monday, April 12, 2021
Saturday, March 27, 2021
In the 1970s Larry Levenson decided to open a straight sex club in New York at the Continental Baths with had been a gay bathhouse that had hired the likes of Bette Midler and Barry Manilow at one point. Soon the place was called "Plato's Retreat" and it became infamous.
The film is, rightly, mostly about Levenson and his obsession with being some sort of king of the sexual revolution. Have taking over the gay club he immediately forbid sex amount the male guests (women on women was perfectly fine, of course) as well as alcohol, drugs and prostitution. These restrictions proved hard to enforce and honestly they didn't seem to make make of an effort making the place a haven for drug use and prostitutes. His plan was to open Plato's Retreat all over the United States, which never happened and the original club was eventually plagued by tax fraud and the changing policy landscape which included the rise of AIDS in the 1980s.
The documentary is well done, I learned a lot about this famous club. It also has a few clips from Levenson and his then wife being interviewed by Phil Donahue which did nothing if not reinforce what a shitty, mean spirited and exploitative show he had. The directors show the many ides of the sexual revolution but despite all the talk of freedom and acceptance of non tradition (heterosexual) lifestyles - I have to say it comes across pretty clearly that the high minded "sexual liberation" was certainly a thing for many of the club goers but there was an overarching feeling that this place was more than a little sleepy and exploitive as well.
I found it interesting to see how AIDS affected the straight sex scene in the 80s as most times AIDS is mentioned, if not every time it's only about the gay community's experience with it. The people interviewed show how far their heads were in the sand about the danger and how easy it was for straight people to buy into that a disease could only effect gay people and not them. One woman highlights this and states she realized she was only still alive by sheer luck and not all her friends from the time were not so lucky.
This is an interesting view of the sexual revolution that lets you decide what to think of the players in the Plato's Retreat saga.
Friday, March 5, 2021
I recently had the chance to rewatch this film. I had seen it on release and it was a sensation at the time with its take on the British historical romance genre. It's intellectual, touching and funny at the same time with great actors in early roles and started
A short list of some of the people in this film might give you an idea on how good it is. No one in the cast disappoints which is amazing considering for many of them this was one of their first projects. Danial Day-Lewis was also in "My Beautiful Launderette" this year and both films were out at the same time and I would say that fact catapulted him into international stardom as a serious actor. The 2 characters he played could not have been more different and many people had no idea it was the same actor in both films. It cemented in many people's minds what a "Merchant/Ivory production" should be even though they had produced films together for many years at this point already. It was nominated for an incredible 8 Academy Awards.
At it's base (which is an E.M. Forster novel) it's a simple girl meets unsuitable boy on holiday fall in love story. Even the main character's engagement to be married nor everyone's impeccable manners can keep them apart in the end.
If you have never seen it, seeing it now might take some patience as the pacing is slow by today's film standards but it's worth it. Julian Sands is super handsome as the romantic lead and Maggie Smith plays a role that could have easily been the same character she played in Downton Abbey decades later.
- Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy Honeychurch
- Julian Sands as George Emerson
- Maggie Smith as Charlotte Bartlett
- Daniel Day-Lewis as Cecil Vyse
- Simon Callow as The Reverend Mr. Beebe
- Rosemary Leach as Mrs Honeychurch, Lucy's mother
- Rupert Graves as Freddy Honeychurch, Lucy's brother
- Patrick Godfrey as The Reverend Mr. Eager
- Judi Dench as Eleanor Lavish, a novelist
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Cinefex magazine, the most incredible source of information and inspiration about special effects for over 40 yers is shutting down, apparently due to the COVID downturn.
As someone who bought the first few issues at his corner store and would continue to buy them when money allowed (the magazine was not cheap to buy but beautifully done and worth every single penny)and continued to get digital versions on the iPad when finances allowed I find this new devastating. A lottery win for me would have started with finally getting a full year subscription. Every issue was eye opening and they made the transition from physical effects to digital and now the current hybrid model with grace and kept on top of all the advances in visuals the cinema was able to pump out. It coved not just current films but went deep in the past to have well researched articles about classic films and effects pioneers like Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhaussen.
It is a HUGE loss to film and effects fans alike. Maybe it can come back? Who knows but if it does I will be first in line to get that new issue. If there is anyway to buy back issues I would like on the iPad I'll be doing that as well.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Luc Besson has made some amazing films and some pretty bad ones. It is a mixed bag. To me, this movie exemplifies that. It had some great actors giving interesting performances and some nice visual touches but while the sort starts out with promise the undeniable dumbness of the main conceit of the film catches up to it by the end and it left me feeling... MEH. The main character is hard yo feel anything for and the whole using only 10% of your brain thing one of those stupid ideas that has never.... never... had any validity to it but somehow keeps itself alive in the mind of popular culture. It would have worked better as a super hero original story where it could have dropped all pretence of trying to transit anything "deep" to the audiences watching it.
It moves along at a pace that I think works and the effects are very well done but without a sympathetic lead and a ridiculous premise it takes far too seriously, it just falls flat by the end. So not boring but not something to go out of your way to watch and if you do, expect very little from it and you'll be fine.
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Gorgo is the giant monster story of mercenaries finding a treasure and a giant monster who turns out to be a baby with parent that comes to find it after it has been put in a sideshow in London. The two main characters also just sort of kidnap/save a young Irish kid. Doing so saves his life but it still seemed sort of sketchy. In the end the monsters return to the sea from which they came. The effects are pretty good thought monster is sort of goofy looking. The giant props work well and there is enough monster on major city destruction to satisfy kaju fans.
Saturday, February 6, 2021
I did like the first season of the Jordon Peele reboot of the Twilight Zone. That first season was fairly intense and made pretty strong political and social statements. This second season is less intense, more fun but still interesting and though provoking. From dead daughter's being replaced by alien invaders to killer intelligent octopus the season runs the gambit from silly to serious and keeps the variety we should expect from a twilight Zone season intact.
Jordon Peele seems much more present as the Narrator and I really love how he inserts the character into the openings of the episodes. His delivery seems more confident. There are less references and Easter eggs to find which I think is a good road to travel. there is enough of that in genre TV and film these days - it's gotten out of hand, I think, so pushing that back a little makes the shows stand more on their own.
Saturday, January 23, 2021
I really did love most of the 2017 Wonder Woman film, everything except the useless CGI battle with the useless villain at the end. The no man's land sequence alone makes it one of the great super hero movies. This sequel, sadly comes nowhere near the first movie. At 2 ½ hours it is an hour overlong and while all the performances are good, the motivations of the characters, especially the villains are muddy at best and unconvincing at worst. There is simply too little Wonder Woman in it as well. I don't count the opening Diana as a child warrior sequences as seeing Wonder Woman. They have little to do with the plot and I swear it seemed to go on for days to make a point that could have been madd before the credits started. The weird return of Steve Trevor makes little sense... there is a magic element to the plot that takes away from the depth the first story had by being set in WW1. The whole thing reads like a mediocre TV episode. That is not to say there is no fun in watching it, there is some of that but it drags out everything from the action shots to the poignant moments. Despite making an effort to set it in the 80s, it really could have happened at any time, including yesterday. The 80s conceit is simply to avoid conflicts in the DC Universe timeline and doesn't add anything.
I would not spend too much money on seeing this and was glad I didn't have to. I haven't given up on Patty Jenkins, I think she has more awesome Wonder Woman ideas in her but I will be much more cautious in my enthusiasm for a third film.
Sunday, January 17, 2021
I admit I have soft spot for Gamera, the giant flying turtle, as it is my mom's favourite kanji. Why my mom has a favourite kanji is another story. Gamera has always been a softer, maybe more kid friendly than some of the Godzilla films and with even smaller budgets.
This film has some interesting elements. A man who was saved by Gamera as a boy and has a young son with psychological problems after his mother died. He finds a weird egg that hatches into turtle that exhibits all sorts of intelligence and powers... much like Gamera, who had sacrificed himself when he saved the man. The son and the turtle grow a bond as the animal grows to gigantic size just in time fight the newly emerged monster Zedus. With the help of the young boy and his friends, the new Gamera is given extra power by a magic stone that was found at the same time the boy found the egg. An epic battlic ensues and the new Gamera wins the day while the children cheer him on.
This film is fairly fun though pretty dumb in many respects. It has the problem most Gamera films do, one or more annoying child actors that really get on your nerves. It does have a really cool monster in Zedus, maybe one of the best giant monster designed out there. The effects are better than you might expect but Gamera has the look of kid's plush toy with giant eyes and baby like features that just do not work. It's hard to recommend this as children's film - Zedus is blown to pieces at the end which is gross but before that we see him eating hapless like chicken nuggets people multiple times throughout the film!
Following the current trend for Japanese monster films to have better effects and more complicated storylines that may or may not work, this movie hits enough marks to be an enjoyable watch as long as you remember that it's a film about a giant flying turtle who is "the friend of the children".