Friday, March 5, 2021

New Year, New Movie: I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)

The Criterion films have arrived! And it's not a moment too soon to lose myself in the sweet, soothing relief of I Wanna Hold Your Hand, that tells about a group of kids who are trying to get in to the Ed Sullivan theater to see the Beatles performThis movie is pure fun, and that is just what was needed tonight after an extremely difficult week. I will watch this film again and again. I love the Beatles, and their music brings me perpetual joy. This film would pair well with The Rutles



Sunday, February 28, 2021

New Year, New Movie: The Sin of Nora Moran (1933)

While Saturdays are my day for picking out a scary movie, it seemed appropriate to make Sundays a day for tales of immorality, which leads me to watch The Sin of Nora Moran tonight. 


"I'm not dying for something you did. I'm dying for all the good things you're going to do. And I'm dying rather than give up something that was precious to me--my life with you."



The Gist

Nora Moran has been sentenced to die for killing a man, but it turns out she is taking the blame to protect someone else. It comes down to the eleventh hour to find out if the real culprit will spare her the electric chair, but what eventually transpires is truly shocking.


Memorable Moments

Edith Crawford shows her brother, DA John Grant, 
love letters she has found from her husband's mistress.

Grant shows her the mistress.

Nora recalls the events that led up to her death sentence.

Scumbag Paulino slinks into Nora's train compartment at night.

Nora awakens to the horror of Paulino's brutality.

She finds love with Dick Crawford, who puts her up in a house.

Things go south.

The truth comes out about who killed Paulino.

It didn't matter that it was self defense.

Nora comes up with a solution.

"Eternal rest and perpetual light. Is that frightening?"

The movie poster that has nothing to do with the movie.



Thoughts

While this has all the hallmarks of a pre-code movie, including rape, infidelity and murder, with the unfaithful partners coming to no good end, the telling of it is unique. At the beginning, we are led to pre-judge Nora's character, but as the events of her life that led up to her fateful predicament are revealed, we learn that appearances can be deceiving.  It is rather harrowing as we see Nora being prepped for the electric chair, given a sedative, getting her head shaved, and having a coffin ordered from the mortuary. While she is resigned to her fate, the viewer holds on to the belief that she will escape the wrongful punishment. It's powerful and tragic.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

New Year, New Movie: Slither (2006)

I seem to be on a roll with parasitic alien themed movies. Tonight's wormy adventure is Slither.

"The worms are in their brains!"



The Gist

Grant Grant becomes infected with an alien parasite and undergoes a hideous transformation. As he goes about infecting others, a torrent of parasitic slugs is unleashed on the townspeople, turning them into shambling zombies. 


Memorable Moments

If only Grant had seen The Blob, he'd know not to go poking
squishy things in a meteorite with a stick. 

Alien procreation.

Grant is not feeling well.

She's so hungry.

Coming apart at the seams.

Slug explosion.

Not something you want to find in the bathtub.

Bad infestation.

The infected.

"Girl, you're every woman in the world to me..."



Thoughts

This would make a fine double feature with Night of the Creeps. Both films are highly enjoyable homages to horror movies, and while dealing with similar subject matter, each takes a different approach. Of the two, this one was much more suspenseful, it grossed me out more, and left me feeling a little squirmy. All in all, it was another fun movie to watch. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

New Year, New Movie: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)

With more Criterion Collection films on the way, I thought it might be prudent to dig into some past purchases. Tonight I'm visiting the gritty 1970s Boston crime scene with The Friends of Eddie Coyle.


"There you are. They just come up to you and say, 'Look, you made somebody mad, you made a big mistake, and now there's somebody doing time for it. There's nothing personal in it you understand, but it just has to be done. Now get your hand out there.'"


The Gist

Eddie Coyle, aka Eddie Fingers, is coming up for sentencing and wants to avoid doing time. He decides to fink on his gun supplier to try and obtain a get out of jail free card. When he fails to get what he wants, he becomes willing to turn over his bank robbing buddies, only to find out that someone else has beat him to it. 


Memorable Moments

"Ever hear bones breaking? It's like a man snapping a shingle.
Hurts. Like. A. Bastard!"

Eddie's friends, on their way to work.

Eddie's gun buddy.

Doing business.

Making a deal.

The professional.


Thoughts

This is an interesting film. The violence is subtle and somehow more menacing, and I found myself holding my breath during the robberies, expecting the worst. There are no good characters in this film, but Eddie somehow manages to elicit some sympathy. When punishment comes for Eddie, it's hard not to wonder if he saw it coming or not. It's not a feel good movie, but it's potent, and well worth a watch.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Going in a Flash Sale

It's that time of year again, when I manage to find a few more movies I'd like to add to my collection from Criterion at half price. Here's what I picked up this time around. 

I Wanna Hold Your Hand



Leave Her to Heaven



Blast of Silence



The Irishman



Smooth Talk



Dance, Girl, Dance



Saturday, February 20, 2021

New Year, New Movie: The Stranger Within (1974)

It's a lovely pre-spring Saturday afternoon, and I'm sitting down to watch a TV movie featuring Barbara Eden. I picked this one off the shelf today because it was written by Richard Matheson, author of I am Legend, The Shrinking ManBid Time Return, and Hell House, among others. He also wrote episodes of The Twilight Zone, as well as other TV series and movies. Even if you've never heard of him, chances are you have seen or read something he created. 


"Why do we always assume that anything that comes from outer space is horrible? Maybe it isn't. I mean, hell, maybe it's great! What do we know? Maybe it's just what we need."



The Gist

Ann is pregnant, but her husband, David, is not the father and she insists she's not been out cavorting with another man. As her fetus develops, she begins to consume large amounts of salt, she lowers the thermostat to a hypothermia inducing temperature, she guzzles pots of scalding coffee while speed reading academic texts, she allows the house to become disorderly, and acts like a shrew to her confused husband, who she begins speaking to in tongues. After undergoing hypnosis, David and friends get a clue to her mysterious pregnancy.


Memorable Moments

A picture takes form.

Salt cravings.

Ann has developed a preference for frigid cold temperatures.

1970s style hypnosis.

Evelyn Wood style speed reading.

More salt.

Ann starts leaving sloppy messes.

More work done on the painting.

Mysterious injuries

Ann displays terrible table manners.

Another sloppy mess.

Ann listens to a record with her fingers.

Another delicious, salty meal.

Good to the last drop.

Ann offers an explanation for her odd behavior. 

Motherhood

Dynamic art.


My Thoughts

Made for TV movies like this one are truly relics of a time gone by, and are quite nostalgic for those of us who grew up in the 1970s, but may not be appreciated as well by others, who won't be as tolerant of the amount of time spent having Ann try to convince everyone she hasn't been sleeping around, or the number of times we see her overusing the salt shaker, slamming cups of coffee, or leaving the house looking like a pigsty. It's a familiar story that recalls Rosemary's Baby, but the ending has got the unexpected feel of a Twilight Zone episode. I just wonder why she bothered with a salt shaker when it would have been more expedient to spoon it out like sugar from a bowl. For all its faults, I was still entertained by it, and it was a nice diversion for a Saturday afternoon.