A Movie A Day #74: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981, directed by Robert Gunette)


If you have ever wanted to witness the sad fate that awaits most geniuses who challenge the system, you could not do any worse than to watch The Man Who Saw Tomorrow.

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow is a low-budget “documentary” about Nostradamus, the 16th century French alchemist who some people consider to be a prophet and others consider to be a charlatan.  Nostradamus has been credited with predicting everything from the rise of Napoleon and Hitler to the 9-11 terror attacks.  Others argue that the writings of Nostradamus were so obscure and prone to mistranslation that they could be interpreted in just about any way.  While he did write about an evil dictator that he called “Hister,” he was also widely credited with predicting an atomic war in 1999.

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow argues that Nostradamus was indeed a prophet and it makes its case through cheap historical reenactments and a lot of stock footage.  The Zapruder film is used.  So is footage from A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace, Earthquake, and Waterloo (Be sure to keep an eye out for Rod Steiger).  Some of the predictions, like Edward Kennedy becoming President and World War III starting in 1986, are easy to laugh at.  Others, like conflict in the Middle East leading to a nuclear war, would be frighteningly credible if the film wasn’t so obviously made on the cheap.  No skepticism of Nostradamus is implicitly acknowledged but there are interviews with a few believers, including psychic Jeane Dixon (whose first name the film misspells).

And narrating it all is none other than one of the most important filmmakers of all time, Orson Welles.  Sitting at a desk in front of a bookcase and occasionally puffing on a cigar, the director of Citizen Kane lends his deep and recognizable voice to the film’s narration but also adds just a touch of sarcasm to his tone.  The movie may believe that Nostradamus saw the future but Welles is going to damn well make sure that everyone understands that he does not.  When Welles talks about Nostradamus’s predictions for the future, he says, “But before continuing, let me warn you now that these predictions of the future are not at all comforting – and I might go on to add that these visions of the past, these warnings of the future, are not the opinions of the producers of this film. They’re certainly not my opinions.”  He really emphasizes that last sentence, as if he had already grown weary of people approaching him in the streets and asking him if he thought Nostradamus had predicted Watergate.

Sadly, Welles spent a good deal of his career doing jobs like this.  The films and the roles were often beneath his talent but they provided Welles with the money that he needed to pursue his own projects, many of which were never to be completed.  At the time he did The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, Welles was trying to raise the money to complete post production on his final film, The Other Side of The Wind.  The Other Side of The Wind would remain unfinished at the time of Welles’s death but it now appears that, 41 years after principal photography was completed, the film may finally see the light of day thanks to Netflix.

As for The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, it seems only fair to give Orson Welles the final word.  When asked about the film and Nostradamus on The Merv Griffith Show, Welles replied, “”One might as well make predictions based on random passages from the phone book.”

Well said, Orson.  Well said.

 

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Fight Valley (dir by Rob Hawk)


I wish I knew how to fight.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a pacifist.  I’m not the type who would ever actually go out looking for a fight but we live in a dangerous world and I’d like to know how to fight for much the same reason that I like to carry a pink, Hello Kitty derringer in my garter.  Self-defense is important.

Again, don’t get me wrong.  I know how to pull hair.  In fact, back in the day, I was told that I was a very good hair puller.  And I keep my nails healthy and strong so I probably could scratch someone’s eyes out if I had to.  But, with all that in mind, I’d still probably be totally lost if I ever got into a real fight.  I have no idea how to throw a punch for instance.  I recently tried to show off my technique to a friend of mine who spent two years serving in the IDF.  She started laughing as soon as I made a fist.  Apparently, you’re not supposed to tuck in your thumb.  I had no idea.

I found myself thinking about this last night.  I’m in the process of cleaning out my DVR and, before going to bed, I decided to watch the 2016 film Fight Valley.  I recorded Fight Valley off of TMC on March 10th.  I’m not sure why I recorded it.  Maybe I liked the title. Who knows?

Anyway, Fight Valley is a film about fighting.  In many ways, it’s a how-to video for girls who want to learn how to kick ass.  Watching Fight Valley, I learned that the most important thing about fighting is to stand around and glare at the person who you want to fight.  Judging from the film, it’s also important to say stuff like, “This is our hood,” and “You need to take your skinny ass home, white girl.”  Apparently, when walking past someone who you want to fight, it’s very important to make sure that you bump into their shoulder.  Basically, it goes: Glare, Talk, Shoulder Bump.

 

Fight Valley takes place in Camden, New Jersey, where it appears your only two options are either joining the Mafia or getting involved with the underground fighting circuit.  Tori Colo (Chelsea Durkalec) is this kickass fighter who needs to make some money.  She asks her rich older sister, Windsor (Susie Celek), for the money but Windsor is all like, “Why don’t you get a real job and stop bumping into people’s shoulders?”  One night, a skeezy guy tells Tori that she can make some extra cash by going to Fight Valley.  The next morning, Tori’s dead body is discovered in the woods!

Well, needless to say, Windsor feels guilty.  So, she does what any rich girl who doesn’t know how to fight would do.  She starts wandering around Camden and randomly asking people, “Hey, can you give me a ride to Fight Valley?”  Well, that doesn’t work.  She gets told to go home.  Tori’s squad tells her that she either needs to learn how to fight or give up.  Fortunately, the harsh and enigmatic Jabs (Miesha Tate) is willing to teach her how to fight.  Even more luckily, it only takes four weeks to learn.

(Don’t worry, there’s a twist!  Jabs has her own reason for teaching Windsor how to fight.  I won’t spoil it here, largely because it’s kind of stupid.)

The good thing about Fight Valley is that a good deal of the cast is made up of actual fighters.  Along with Miesha Tate, the cast includes Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg.  While I have to admit that I don’t know much about ultimate fighting, I do know that if any of these three gave me the fight glare, I would immediately go hide under a table.  Whenever they’re punching, kicking, and putting each other into chokeholds, they are totally believable and there are hints of what the film could have been.  Unfortunately, the fight scenes themselves are somewhat haphazardly shot and confusingly edited.  As a general rule, when you’ve got actual athletes doing their thing, you don’t need a lot of jump cuts and flashbacks.

The big problem was the acting.  For a film where the main attraction was obviously meant to be the fight scenes, Fight Valley was a surprisingly talk movie.  Most of the film’s cast had an authenticity to them that disappeared as soon as they opened their mouths and started to recite the script’s overwritten dialogue in the most stilted style possible.  It just doesn’t work.

The same can be said of Fight Valley in general.  As much as I’d love to know how to throw a punch, Fight Valley left me feeling like maybe I should just stick to hair pulling.

Music Video of the Day: One Man, One Woman by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)


I think Hallström might be Swedish. It’s so hard to tell with this music video.

This one looks like they combined a little footage from a TV performance with shots of their faces. They either fade from one to another or pull a Persona (1966) by dividing the face into two halves made up of two members of the group. It’s a nice and simple video. You’d really have to try hard to convince me that Hallström didn’t have Bergman’s film in mind when he made this video.

Enjoy!

ABBA retrospective:

  1. Bald Headed Woman by The Hep Stars (1966, dir. ???)
  2. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  3. Tangokavaljeren by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  4. Vårkänslor (ja, de’ ä våren) by Agnetha & Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  5. Titta in i men lilla kajuta by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  6. Nu Ska Vi Vara Snälla by Björn & Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  7. Finns Det Flickor by Björn & Sten Nilsson (1969, dir. ???)
  8. Nu Ska Vi Opp, Opp, Opp by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  9. Det Kommer En Vår by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  10. Beate-Christine by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  11. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  12. Att Älska I Vårens Tid by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  13. Min Soldat by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  14. Söderhavets Sång by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  15. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  16. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  17. Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  18. Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  19. Hasta Mañana by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  20. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  21. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. ???)
  22. Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  23. SOS by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  24. Mamma Mia by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  25. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  26. Tropical Loveland by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  27. When I Kissed The Teacher by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  28. Tiger by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  29. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  30. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  31. Fernando by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström) + Spanish Version
  32. Dancing Queen by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  33. That’s Me by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  34. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  35. The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  36. Thank You For The Music/Gracias Por La Música by ABBA (1977/1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Guilty Pleasure No. 33: In the Mix (dir by Ron Underwood)


Back in January, I had to get a new cable box.  Sadly, when the boxes were switched, I lost everything that I had saved on the DVR.  Over a hundred movies and TV shows were wiped away!  However, I did not let this get me down.  Instead, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I now had a lot more free space by literally recording anything that looked the least bit interesting.

Well, the day of reckoning has finally arrived.  It is now March 21st and the DVR is nearly full.  So, for the next few weeks, I am going to clean out my DVR and review what I watch!  Now, I can’t say how long this is going to take.  In the past, I’ve always given myself unrealistic deadlines.  So, this time, I’m not giving myself a time limit.  Instead, I’m just going to start watching what I’ve got recorded and hope that I’m done by 2018.  We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, I started things off by watching the 2005 mafia romance film, In the Mix.

I recorded In The Mix off of Starz on March 16th.  I did this despite the fact that I’ve actually seen In The Mix quite a few times.  In The Mix, which is technically a beyond terrible movie, is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine.  It’s a bit like From Justin To Kelly or On The Line.  Even though all my instincts as a movie snob tell me not to do it, I can’t help but watch it.

In the Mix stars Usher as Darrell, the hottest DJ in New York.  Every woman wants him and every man wants to be him.  However, all Usher wants to do is hang out with the family of the local mob boss.  It turns out that Don Frank (Chazz Palminteri) was friends with Darrell’s father and Darrell is now friends with Frank’s son, Frankie Jr. (Anthony Fazio).  Frank hires Darrell to DJ his daughter’s birthday party.

(Frankie, Jr. is a white kid who wants to be black.  Personally, I think there’s probably an interesting story in the idea of the son of an old-fashioned Italian mafia don who idolizes — or appropriates, depending on how you look at it — black culture but Frankie, Jr.’s characterization pretty much starts and ends with him saying, “Yo.”)

At the party, Darrell quickly falls in love with Frank’s daughter, Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Dolly likes him too.  Especially after he takes a bullet that was intended for her father.  While Darrell is recuperating at the mansion, Frank tells Dolly that she can’t go outside unless she has a bodyguard.  Dolly says that’s fine as long as the bodyguard is Darrell.

And you know what that means!  It’s time for a makeover montage as Darrell gets a whole new wardrobe!  Yay!

Anyway, the plot is about as predictable as the casting of Kevin Hart as Usher’s comedic sidekick and Robert Davi as a sinister gangster.  Dolly and Darrell fall in love but you already knew that was going to happen.  You also probably already guessed that Dolly already has a boring boyfriend named Chad (Geoff Stults) and that Darrell has a crazy ex-girlfriend named Cherise (K.D. Aubert).  And, of course, Frank is not initially happy with the idea of Dolly leaving her rich lawyer boyfriend so that she can be with Darrell.  However, Darrell eventually gets a chance to prove himself by rescuing Dolly from some rival gangsters and he’s welcomed into the crime family.  Of course, he gets shot a second time.  “If the ghetto’s so dangerous,” he says as he lies on the ground, “how come I keep getting shot by white people?”  Everyone has a good laugh as they wait for the ambulance.  That’s the type of movie that In The Mix is.

As I watched In The Mix, I realized that it was actually a lot worse than I remembered and yet, I still enjoyed it.  Why?  To be honest, it all comes down to Usher and Emmauelle Chriqui, both of whom look really, really good and who have enough chemistry that they can overcome an amazingly clunky script.  You reallydo believe that the two of them actually are into each other and you hope that things will work out for them because they’re such a ludicrously attractive couple.  In The Mix is an incredibly shallow and silly movie but the stars both look good when they kiss and, ultimately, that’s what a movie like this is all about.

That said, in the future, I probably won’t bother to set the DVR for it again.

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D

A Movie A Day #73: Bitter Harvest (1993, directed by Duane Clark)


Travis Graham (Stephen Baldwin, before he found God) is a doofus who owns a farm.  His late father sent all of the family’s money to a crooked televangelist but he did leave Travis a valuable coin collection.  But then two blondes enter his life.  Kelly Ann (Jennifer Rubin) is a penniless hitchhiker who needs a place to stay and a bed to sleep in.  Jolene (Patsy Kensit) is a British realtor who says she wants to help Travis sell his farm.  Faster than you can say “I don’t know the exact pronunciation but I believe it’s ménage à trois,” that’s exactly what happens.  Travis can’t believe his luck but it turns out that Kelly Ann and Jolene have plans of their own.  Then, in a strangely unrelated subplot, a banker robber who shot the local sheriff (M. Emmett Walsh) shows up at the farm.  Travis kills the bank robber but then Kelly Ann and Jolene start pressuring him to use the robber’s plan to rob a bank himself.

This is one of the many strange movies from the increasingly strange career of Stephen Baldwin.  Now that he’s best known for evangelizing and appearing in celebrity-themed reality shows (including, most infamously, two seasons of The Celebrity Apprentice), it is easy to forget that Stephen Baldwin was once a good character actor who, with the exception of The Usual Suspects, apparently could not pick a good script if his life depended upon it.  His performance as the socially backward Travis is often strange (at times, he seems to be channeling Lenny from Of Mice and Men) but always interesting.  Fans of 90s neo-noir will also be happy to see Delusion’s Jennifer Rubin, playing yet another mysterious and dangerous temptress.  Unfortunately, Bitter Harvest falls apart because of an implausible script and too many loose ends but, until it does, the sultry combination of Jennifer Rubin and Patsky Kensit keeps things watchable.

One final note: The sheriff’s son is played by Adam Baldwin.  Even though the two are not actually related, everyone in the 90s assumed that they were and this makes Bitter Harvest a double Baldwin film.

Music Video of the Day: Fantasy by Aldo Nova (1982, dir. Richard Casey)


My Internet connection appears to be back up for the time being. It went down on the 13th of this month. We had some people come over to start installing new floors in the house that day. Somehow, the instant they walked in the door, the power cutout for all of about 10 seconds. However, that was enough to kick the my Internet connection out, and it didn’t want to come back up. After talking with endless people on the phone and going through three technicians over the past week, they finally were able to find the issue that was keeping the connection down. It was a splitter that breaks up a line coming into the house so that it can go to the modem and a cable box. The splitter had gone bad. After replacing it, I can connect to the Internet again. I would have written a post for yesterday, but the first two technicians also got the modem working again only to have it go down a few hours after they left. I wanted to make sure it would stay up.

I originally thought that I would do The Karate Rap, or one of the two music videos for covers of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. I’ll save The Karate Rap, and get to Judas Priest and Peter Tosh later. Instead, I present you Fantasy by Canadian artist Aldo Nova. Let’s see how Wikipedia describes it:

“The video shows Aldo performing with his band at a concert. It is best remembered by fans for its intro, which starts out with a man holding an electric guitar and two bodyguards holding machine guns, waiting for someone. Then comes a helicopter, landing from the sky, and Aldo comes out in a very contoured leopard-print suit, being escorted to the stage. When they encounter a locked door, which the bodyguards can’t open, Aldo grabs his guitar and fires a laser into the door and it opens.”

True. There is the gunfire over the title card implying that Aldo needs to be protected on his way to the stage performance. He does show up in a leopard-print suit. One of the bodyguards tries to knock down the door and fails. Aldo shoots his phaser guitar at the door to open it up. You could take that description, modify it slightly to talk about product placement for Paper Mate mechanical pencils, and you’d have a description of Turn Up The Radio by Autograph. It fails to mention the creative element of the video that pulls it all together.

From the start, it begins to periodically flash quickly to something else, then return to the video. Over the title card, it’s a test pattern. It continues throughout the video until you reach the end where Aldo proceeds to cut in and out of existence till everything else glitches out, and ultimately Aldo does too. In the end, you are left with darkness. The “Fantasy” is over.

The music video was directed by Richard Casey. It looks like he only directed a handful of music videos. They are all pretty trippy. My personal favorite is the post-apocalyptic video for Born To Rock by Buck Dharma. After that, his work is on feature films such as Horror House On Highway Five (1985).

Enjoy!