Ensemble movie of intersecting characters around NYC, packs plenty into under 90 minutes. I might’ve mixed up a couple of actors, but… Buddy Duress gets beaten up for attempting to scam record collector Bene Coopersmith… whose roommate George Sample III is in trouble for instructing his computer guy Benny Safdie to publish revenge porn of his recently-ex-girlfriend Marsha Stephanie Blake. Clockmaker Philip Baker Hall unwittingly holds material evidence that widow Michaela Watkins murdered her husband, and cub reporter Abbi Jacobson embarrassedly tries to get the dirt on that case, egged on by her slimy metalhead boss Michael Cera. Short-haired teen Tavi Gevinson hangs out with best friend Olivia Luccardi (who has a boyfriend) speaking pretentiously and acting like she definitely doesn’t want a boyfriend. Movie ends with a dance party, as all movies should.

Also: Isiah Whitlock Jr.:

Hell yeah, Unwound:

Global, less insular Piñeiro universe than Viola, with actors from La Flor (and onscreen drawings like La Flor). Title of the movie comes from the Midsummer Night’s Dream characters played by a couple of minor players in rehearsals that we never see – there was more Shakespeare in the Kids in The Hall sketch I watched the previous day than in this.

Carmen is returning to Argentina from a NY institute and Midsummer translator Camila is taking her place, causing some identity confusion. Camila ends up dating Carmen’s institute guy Keith Poulson and getting visited by Carmen’s America-roaming friend Mati Diop. They’re supposedly at this institute to work but they spend more time worrying over their parting gift. Camila looks up her long-lost father (Sallitt) and her long-lost boyfriend (Dustin Guy Defa), and Ted Fendt is in the credits to round things out. There are strange turns and visits to Argentina and a sudden film-in-a-film and I’m not convinced it all works, but it’s also flirty and pleasant.

On Letterboxd: “Hermann Loves Pauline” by Super Furry Animals

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.