Despite having an all-star cast, the caper comedy The Maiden Heist was released straight to DVD. It definitely deserved a better fate.Keith Bailey is the proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page.
I’m running behind on my Roundtable contribution, but in the meantime, here’s what’s been happening lately on Teleport City…
|CHINESE GHOST STORY
Chinese Ghost Story is one of the first Hong Kong films I watched, and certainly one that got me interested in the incredibly vibrant and imaginative cinema of that small island nation. I knew, at the time, basically nothing about Hong Kong or the Hong Kong film industry, but a tape containing Project A, Once Upon a Time in China, the final shoot-out from A Better Tomorrow 2, and Chinese Ghost Story launched me into a crash course on both the films and the history of what is now the former British colony of Hong Kong. Throughout the earl 1990s, I devoured Hong Kong cinema with a voracious appetite, often to the exclusion of just about any other type of cinema.
|GANGS OF WASSEYPUR
When writers tag Gangs of Wasseypur as the next big Bollywood cross-over hit, they seem to be missing the point. First, Gangs of Wasseypurwasn’t a hit in India. It made a profit purely because the budget was tiny (US$3 million; in contrast, the budget for slick, shiny Bollywood action blockbuster Dhoom 3 was US$25 million, at least $10 million of which went to buying derbies for Aamir Khan’s Sahir), but it wasn’t loved by audiences, who — perhaps by design — found it too dark, too depressing, too violent, and too willing to show filth and misery instead of dazzling them with aspirational scenes of cleanliness and wealth. But more than that, Gangs of Wasseypur isn’t a potential Bollywood cross-over hit because it isn’t a Bollywood film. If anything, it is the antithesis of a Bollywood movie.
It’s been said that in an effort to appeal to as massive a population as possible, the average Hindi film tries to cram every film genre into a single movie. Asambhav is the rare entry that maintains a relatively narrow thematic focus — this is an action film, stripped of the romantic comedy and estranged mother that appear in almost every other film, be they action or horror or whatever — but it makes up for its lack of schizophrenic genre-hopping by trying to cram every single editing and camera trick from the last fifteen years into one film, and often into one scene, and occasionally into a single shot.
|OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR
Attenborough’s film differed from Littlewood’s play in a number of notable ways — so much so that the playwright considered the film a complete ruin of her work. Firstly, it used historically accurate costumes and military uniforms. Secondly, where the play had been an absurdist comedy played out on top of harrowing statistics and battlefield photographs, the movie realistically depicted things like trench warfare and poison gas. And there is death, lots and lots of death. In the play, no one died. Littlefield wanted people to laugh at the pointlessness of war, wanted to highlight that head-shaking absurdity rather than explicitly depicting it. She was horrified when she saw that the cinematic adaptation of her play was positively caked in the filth and blood of the First World War.
Few if any have pursued movie stardom as tenaciously but to so little effect as pop singer Madonna. Here she took her (apparently) final stab at it, remaking a grossly misogynistic Italian art classic–it’s OK, it was made by a woman!–while once again all but destroying the film career of whoever her husband was at the time. Guy Ritchie, meet Sean Penn.
Age, a chain of cinematic clunkers that would give Marley’s Ghost pause and this one last giant bomb finally forced Ms. Ciccone to accept that her dreams of moviedom were being Swept Away.Jabootu: The Bad Movie Dimension.
Also one with a has-been athlete, for those of you who can’t get enough of sportsball guys making asses of themselves. A bunch of other stuff, too, as you can see:
Blood and Black Lace (1964), in which eating disorders are the least of these models’ worries…
Destroyer (1988), in which I call your attention to the frigging laser sight on the jackhammer in the poster art, which sadly has no basis in the reality of this feeble little film…
The Evil Eye (1963), in which an obsession with paperback murder mysteries occasionally comes in handy…
Hercules (2014), in which Herc isn’t the son of a god, and never really fought a monster, but the movie somehow turns out okay anyway…
The Man from Beyond (1922), in which Harry Houdini’s plan to carve out a new niche for himself in the movies continues not to pan out…
Snowpiercer (2013), in which an impressively international cast, crew, and creative team deliver a timely piss-take on Atlas Shrugged…
The Warriors (1979), in which a street gang’s commute from the Bronx back to Coney Island manages to pack in as much danger and adventure as the Great Wanderings of Odysseus.
Unlike many B movie fans, I generally don’t think much of the movies made by Filipino director Cirio H. Santiago. One exception, however, is Eye Of The Eagle 3, an actioner that compensates for some major weaknesses with its first rate action sequences.Keith Bailey is the proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page.
“I’m having trouble coming up with one for Lyz,” commented the Rev D. D. presciently, when this Roundtable was announced.
“Man,” I thought to myself when this topic was voted in, “I’m really in deeeeep trouble!”
…so it is with a certain sense of shame and several sincere mea culpas directed at the Reverend Roosevelt Grier that we present:
Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!
Just about everybody dreams of being a movie star someday, the same way we also dream about being rich, or famous, or powerful & influential. But what if you’re already rich, famous, powerful and/or influential? Hey, why not use your riches, fame, power & influence… to become a movie star? (Or, if you’re rich, famous, etc. because you are a movie star, haven’t you always wanted to direct?)
It’s easier than you might think. Chances are there’s some mercenary producer out there who’s anxious to give you your shot. Oh, it’s not because he has faith in your abilities. He just knows your name alone will be enough to draw in a few curious suckers and make him some easy money. Or maybe he really does believe in you — which is usually worse. Either way, whether you’re Clara Peller or Paris Hilton, Bruce Jenner or Liberace, Toonces the Cat or Shaq, you’re probably better off ignoring your producer and listening to audiences everywhere, as they scream…
DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!
All through August on the B-Master’s blog!