The Flea of this movie is Jonathan Richman, who attended many VU shows and analyzed their vibrations. A terrifically assembled doc – instead of making me want to listen to the Velvet Underground at all, it made me feel like watching experimental film.

Treated myself to a new Gena Rowlands movie and… well, I didn’t hate it, but I have no desire to watch the Sharon Stone version. It relies on big acting moments, but instead of Peter Falk we’ve got this ten-year-old kid. I warmed up to the second half, but until then, practically every moment felt phony. Still, it’s Gena as a tough broad capering through 1980 NYC, and that’s a lot.

“I hate kids, especially yours.” Gena inherits the neighbor kid when his family is murdered by gangsters. She happens to know the people responsible, and tries to keep both of them safe long enough to broker a peace agreement, but the baddies insist the entire family must be killed to set an example, and Gena too, since she interfered, so she shoots her way outta there. My people online all liked this, but if I can’t get into a Cassavetes/Rowlands take on the ol’ mismatched adult-child caper movie then I should definitely avoid C’mon C’mon.

Buck Henry, I just saw him in To Die For, which I also complained about:

Anticipating a new wave of Beatlemania on twitter when Get Back dropped, I watched this in early Nov. I always catch a new Yo La Tengo reference when I watch a Beatles movie – last time was in Help!, dreaming ’bout Eleanor Bron, seeing her in the arms of Paul saying “I can say no more.” This one’s got a cameo by New York DJ Murray the K, who must be the inspiration for Ira’s DJ name.

Three girls and two boys experiencing different levels of Beatlemania in Maplewood NJ drive into the city to crash the Beatles’ Ed Sullivan Show appearance in NYC. No actual Beatle involvement, just stand-ins, glimped from below or behind with impersonator accents. Silly idea for a movie, pulled off wonderfully, an ensemble piece with an ever-growing ensemble, an awful lot of Beatles songs and a woozy happy ending.

L-R: Pam, Janice, Grace, Rosie

Rosie’s the emphatic one who wills the trip into action (Wendie Jo Sperber, Marty’s sister in Back to the Future), Pam is her bestie who plans to elope with her boy tomorrow (Nancy Allen’s followup to Carrie), then there’s Photographer Grace (Pesci’s wife in Raging Bull) and Protester Janice (Susan “daughter of Paul” Newman). Tony is basically a stowaway, out to cause trouble (Bobby Di Cicco of The Big Red One). Larry’s the Cameron-in-Ferris-Bueller of the gang (Marc McClure, aka Jimmy Olsen in Superman), borrowing his undertaker dad’s limo to get them all close to the hotel.

The theater has posters for Wild Strawberries and The Cranes are Flying:

In charge of security on the Beatles floor is Dick Miller – Pam gets by him inside a drink cart and spends quality time with the bands’ instruments while they’re out. Grace and Larry fail to raise cash by selling scraps of Beatle bedsheets, then she tries being a call girl but settles for extortionist instead. Janice and Tony befriend a mophead kid whose dad has tickets but will only give them up if the kid gets a haircut. And Rosie capers with a Beatlemaniac nerd called Ringo (Eddie Deezen of Grease the same year).

Miller grabs Grace:

Old Man Yells At Cloud: The Movie. Not tightly assembled, smoothly edited, or well mixed (too much of Marty laughing on the soundtrack). Just a 3+ hour Q&A hangout with comedian Fran Lebowitz. Alec Baldwin and Spike Lee and Olivia Wilde appear as guest interviewers, some archival TV interviews are thrown in. I wanted her quote from episode 6 about only ever being able to understand one’s contemporaries, but don’t have netflix at this location, oh well.

Giving Spike shit about sports:

Ossie’s feature debut, after screen acting throughout the 60’s, has great energy and is absolutely packed. Some clunky parts, but the nonstop motion and added comedy (unexpected after finding this in Criterion’s neo-noir section) easily win the day.

Just too much going on to address it all, or I’ll be up all night, but charismatic con man Reverend Deke is robbed, and it’s an inside job, the money stashed in a cotton bale. Deke ditches his girl Iris, who ditches the white cop guarding her by getting naked and pretending to seduce him, then she discovers Deke with another girl and spends the rest of the movie hunting him. The lead cops Grave Digger and Coffin Ed are trusted by the locals despite these nicknames, capably chasing Deke and Iris and the cotton and all the other mysterious characters. As in the next movie I watched, Across 110th Street, the Harlem Black mob guy has an Italian boss afraid of losing control. There’s a lot of punching and whacking and flying through the air, not too much shooting, a bit of blackface, and a surprising amount of bird tossing. The cotton ends up onstage at the Apollo, the centerpiece of a musical striptease act, junkman Uncle Bud gets away with the money and the Italian covers it, so the people get back the cash they were throwing at their beloved con man a couple days earlier.

The two lead cops (and the fool white cop) would return in sequel Come Back Charleston Blue. The Reverend Calvin Lockhart would quit acting after a couple David Lynch movies. Judy Pace (Iris) didn’t get a lot of roles, would costar in Frogs. Comedian Redd Foxx played Uncle Bud, would soon find steady work on Sanford & Son.

Klute (1971, Alan Pakula)

“What I would really like to do is be faceless and bodyless, and be left alone.”

Jane won an oscar for playing the first-ever prostitute treated with respect in a movie. Lots of audiotape in this, from the opening titles to the climax. I thought movie was just pretty good – solid investigation story teaming reluctant Jane with a stone-faced Donald Sutherland. Jane is set up as the villain after family man Tom goes missing, since she’s the mysterious hot girl Tom knew in New York. Then after Donald catches up with her, Tom is assumed to be the villain, disappeared to the city due to a dark obsession with poor, harassed Jane. Eventually it’s revealed that some whiteburns guy I hadn’t cared about, Donald’s boss I think, has been stalking Jane and killing people she knows. Along the way Jane wears some good outfits, and the team meets junkies and a pervy Roy Scheider – she and Donald have pretty good characters, though the final villain showdown was lame, the murderous boss confessing everything to the point of playing audiotape of his killings, then abruptly jumping out a window as justice approached. Whiteburns was Charles Cioffi of Shaft, which also won oscars this year, along with The French Connection, The Last Picture Show, and Fiddler on the Roof.


Barbarella (1968, Roger Vadim)

“Decrucify him or I’ll melt your face.”

Jane won an oscar for this too… no wait, it says here that Katharine Hepburn tied with Barbra Streisand, somebody must have made a mistake. I avoided this movie for years, hearing it was “bad,” but that’s obviously untrue. It’s a light, funny sci-fi feature with outrageous sets and costumes, anchored by a playful but unwinking Jane. This was Jane and Vadim’s follow-up to Spirits of the Dead, and it was seeing a screenshot from that movie on my screensaver that got me thinking I should watch more Jane Fonda movies.

Jane is nude through the first ten minutes, answering a call from the President of Earth and getting fitted out with gear like a shameless Bond ripoff. She goes looking for the evil Duran Duran, conked on the head and kidnapped by some Thunderdome lost boys who sic carnivorous dolls on her until she’s rescued by Mark the Catchman, who introduces her to sex. Pygar, the last of the omnithropes, introduces her to Dr. Ping, who can fix her spaceship. Revolutionary Dildano saves her from carnivorous parakeets, I dunno, there were so many wonderful things I lost track of them all. Art directed to hell and back, shot by Claude Renoir, inspiration to Matmos and Ghostbusters II and Futurama, a justifiable cult classic.

Jane meets David Hemmings:

Marcel Marceau, looking like a Tom Kenny character:

Anita Pallenberg as the blade-wielding Great Tyrant:

Portrait of a NYC clinic that sticks pins in your ears to treat stress and addiction. Through interview and archive footage it delves into the history of how Black Panthers and other associated groups studied Chinese acupuncture and brought it back to help their community, then keeps returning from the archives to the present-day clinic and its patients. The founding leader was Mutulu Shakur (below) – I’m behind on the ol’ blog, no surprise, and now we’re watching the new Adam Curtis movie, following the story of Afeni Shakur, so really covering Tupac’s roots this year. The fatal armed car robbery that gets Mutulu imprisoned for life came out of nowhere in this story, and it’s not interested in explaining much about acupuncture itself, more of a history lesson and community portrait.

None of the critics I follow can say anything against this movie, since they all had cameo roles in it, so allow me be the truth-teller who finally declares that this movie is… really good. I fell hard for Sallitt’s The Unspeakable Act and lead actress Tallie Medel, so it’s no wonder that I’d warm up to this one, which lands in a different way. It jumps casually forward in time through two women’s lives, like a more devastating Bob Byington story, until the weight of accumulated details hits hard in the back half of the movie – hard enough that going through the screenshots has made me emotional, and I have no further comment, even though my notes say I’m supposed to reread the thing in Cinema Scope 78 after watching this.

Opens on a mining accident in Ethiopia… camera goes inside a dark gem, though the cosmos and out of Adam Sandler’s ass (rivaling the ants transition in The Human Surge), spends a couple hours following his final few days, back into his body through a fatal bullet hole and into the gem-cosmos. The movie itself is almost a horror, in that you’re watching a character make every bad decision and you want to scream at him to chill out, but it’s also a thrill to see where this many bad decisions will lead… and the thing is, both of Howard’s big gambling bets are winners, but his history of fuckups conspire to rob him of the rewards.

Halfway through the Skandies and already three acting awards: for first time actors Kevin Garnett (as himself, but still) and Keith Williams Richards as Arno’s raspy-voiced tough-guy… and on the opposite side of the showbiz spectrum, Frozen star Idina Menzel, as Howard’s soon-to-be-ex wife, who delivered the line to Adam Sandler that drew applause at my screening: “I think you are the most annoying person I have ever met.” I assume that Sandler is due for a Skandie, and if his brother-in-law/loanshark Arno (Special Effects star Eric Bogosian) and his employee/girlfriend who makes off with the cash at the end (Julia Fox, another first-timer – Matthew Eng wrote about her perfectly in Reverse Shot) aren’t coming up, they must’ve just missed. Good Time still has the edge, but this was great.