Since I had nothing to do all day today I decided to sit about and watch only movies I hadn't seen yet. I am getting behind. I have a stack here, and as I watch them I'll post an update as the day goes on.
First up is Bridge of Dragons a 1999 action film with Dolph Lundgren and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. I'm a fan of both these guys, and I'll watch movies with either of them even though I know they might not be great movies. This is not a great movie, it's watchable, there is a fair bit of action. Cary, who's great in most anything, is the evil warlord in some fantasy country, portraited here by Bulgaria. Dolph is one of his best soldiers, which are constantly fighting the rebels. Cary is supposed to marry Princess Halo, played by Valerie Chow who's a cutie. She finds out Cary killed her father and runs off and joins the rebels. Cary sends Dolph off after her and the Princess turns Dolph against his boss with the truth about her father. The Princess is returned to her throne and the country united. Cool. You probably don't need to see this movie but read Dolph's bio on IMDb, it's cool, according to them he has an IQ of 160, a master in chemistry and he used to date Grace Jones. What a guy.
Next up is the 1959 French horror film Eyes Without a Face. Greg was excited about this, it's a classic! I borrowed it, saving me from buying the expensive Criterion dvd. The daughter of a brilliant surgeon has a car accident and her face is disfigured. The doctor's assistant lures girls into the doctor's clutches so he can remove their faces in an attempt to repair the face of his daughter. It's wrong on every level, and it troubles him. It's a moody, slow movin' and atmospheric picture shot in black and white. It's pretty gory for the time, there is a scene of a girl having her face peeled off. After a while the police start noticing the missing girls, needed for the repeated failures, and they set a trap to catch the perp. The decoy is planted, kidnapped and nearly dies before she wakes up and is released by the guilt ridden daughter. The daughter releases the experimental dogs who chew off the evil doctor's face in an ironic gnawfest, leaving the faceless daughter wandering in the woods. The end. I'm pretty sure I won't need to watch this again. Included on the dvd is a 1949 short film by Eyes director Georges Franju. Blood of the Beasts is about the Paris abattoirs, or slaughterhouses. Now that's pretty gruesome. I had the experience of spending a Christmas eve in an abattoir in St. Boniface 40 years ago. I remember a lake of blood but luckily I didn't see anything in production, just skinned meat blobs hanging, dripping. We got to use the Hilti gun that was used to kill the cows. That was cool, blowing small holes in the concrete.
Next up, Sugarland Express, Steven Spielberg's first studio theatrical feature. Based on a true story about a stupid Texan couple who kidnap a state trooper and drive across the state to get their baby back from the couple that have adopted him. Goldie Hawn plays the forceful mother and William Atherton plays the weak minded father. Ben Johnson plays the head of the state troopers who tries to keep everything from getting more and more violent. It's a great part for him, he carries his weight and the weight of the situation wonderfully. The movie is worth keeping for his performance. Goldie surprises William on visiting day with the news she's breakin' him outa prision, where he's got 4 months to go on a 12 month stretch. She needs help getting their baby back, and her reluctant husband follows on her highly impulsive race to destruction. I have to admit I enjoy these sad tales of human choice, especially when they are funny, and this isn't too bad. Spielberg keeps the jokes coming right up until the end when they don't get their baby in the worst possible way. Goldie sure looks cute on the dvd box. You wouldn't want to date her character, she'd be trouble, a lot of trouble. You don't need that, not even when your young.
I took a break and went out to eat at Perkins over in St. Paul. I picked that Perkins because I wanted to see if Midway Books was open. They weren't, so I came back home and put on The Postman Fights Back. This is a 1981 Ka-Yan Leung picture directed by Ronnie Yu. Yat plays the titled postman and Chow Yun Fat has a secondary role playing a gambler, with trouble in his past. They, and two other out-of-work guys, are paided by Eddie Ko, a local warlord, to deliver 4 cases to another warlord by the 20th, a present for his birthday. Eddie Ko is pretty evil here, he plays a good guy in Heroes Shed No Tears, a 1986 John Woo war movie. He's also in many other good films. Here he's killin' men, women and children, I told ya, he's really bad, and it turns out the "present cases" are a disassembled machine gun which he wants the local warlord to use to attack Sun Yat-Sen's men. Feeling ashamed and betrayed by Eddie, Yat and the guys attack the warlord with explosives tied to white mice and destroy the machine gun, thus restoring their karma. Mostly everyone dies. Eddie Ko in a great explosion, from a bomb lodged in his gut.
The Exorcist III turned out to be pretty good. George C. Scott plays a cop investigating some murders, which bear a resemblence to the Gemini murders of 15 years ago, but that murderer is dead. Brad Dourif is the dead killer and he is possessing some guy and killing again, his works not done yet. There's some running and yelling and flashbacks and lots of murder. You might like it. Blatty turns out to be a fair director, this is his second feature.
Cheaters is made for HBO movie, from 2000, a true-story adaptation about a bunch of high school kids and their teacher who do cheat on the 1995 Illinois Academic Decathalon, and the ramifications as everything unravels and they face the scrutiny of the media, their friends and family and the rest of the world. John Stockwell directed, and I liked his Crazy/Beautiful with Kirsten Dunst from 2001. He's writing Artimis Fowl due out some time this year. Stockwell acted in Christine for John Carpenter, both of whom are on the Christine commentary track, which is enjoyable. Jeff Daniels plays the teacher and Jena Malone is one of the students and they both are great, as are the rest of the cast. Lessons to be learned, learn them on your own.
I picked up a copy of Pieces of April because the director Peter Hedges wrote the novel What's Eating Gilbert Grape. He also wrote the screenplay for Grape and About A Boy, both of which I like. I occasionally like a good sentimental melodrama, and this thanksgiving family get-together nearly lives up to the level of his previous work. Katie Holmes is April the "troubled" older daughter, who has to host the annual family dinner, and her oven breaks. Oliver Platt, who always seems to turn in a good preformance, plays her dad, and Patricia Clarkson is pretty amazing as the cancer ridden mom. In two parallel tracks April races around trying to get dinner ready and the family travels from where they live to NYC and April's apartment. Each have their trials and tribulations along the way and it mostly ends on a happy note and everybody gets fed.
I had wanted to see The Whole Wide World since it came out in 1996. It's based on Novalyn Price's memoir about her relationship with pulp writer Robert E. Howard. Vincent D'Onofrio plays Howard and Renee Zellweger plays Novalyn and they do a great job. Howard's life was brief, he was a candle engulfed in flame, but he burned bright and created an amazing body of work. People know him for Conan, and lots of people only know the movie, but his best stories are always coming back in print. I have a whole paper box full of books and I don't have hardly any compared to what is out there and what is planned. I plan to get around to rereading some Howard, haven't read any since I was in my 20's. I liked the movie, it's not a happy kind of story, it's the kind of human melodrama that Howard rails against in the movie but the kind of story the movie Novalyn would like.
I liked I Heart Huckabees, David O. Russell's existential exploration comedy. I like his previous two film's, Three Kings and Flirting with Disaster, quite a bit. I am not as interested in seeing Spanking the Monkey again. Jason Schwartzman hires a husband and wife team of existential detectives, played by Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman, to look into a trio of coincidences involving a tall black man. In order to help Jason the detectives break down his life and make Jude Law cry. Isabelle Huppert plays the detective's nemisis and she helps. Mark Wahlberg plays a fireman who is having doubts of nothingness. Eventually they get to a happy ending with balloons. I like balloons.
Hercules and the Tryants of Babylon is a 1964 Italian film starring Peter Lupus under the name Rock Stevens. Peter throws boulders and doors at people, womps them with his big club, and after destroying the city of Babylon with a big knob, rubs his oiled pecs up against some raven haired beauty. Eventually the movie was over and I went to bed.