Guardians of the Galaxy Extended Trailer Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bombs In


GOTG_Payoff_1-Sht_v4b_Lg

Marvel Entertainment just released the extended “Cherry Bomb” trailer for it’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy.

It’s been known coming straight from the film’s director, James Gunn, that Guardians of the Galaxy will feature a very eclectic selection of 70’s and 80’s tunes. These are songs that’s become part of Peter Quill’s hold on his Earth-heritage. It’s all he has left of his time as a child on Earth before leaving for a galaxy far, far away. We’ve already heard two songs that have been confirmed for the film with “Hooked On a Feeling” and “Spirit In the Sky”.

Now we have another song featured on this trailer that Gunn himself has confirmed as part of the film’s soundtrack with The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb”.

Oh yeah, the extended trailer also includes some new scenes that doesn’t spoil the film, but just extends the smaller sequences we’ve already seen.

Guardians of the Galaxy is set for an August 1, 2014 release date.

Arleigh’s Top 9 Films of 2014 (Front End)


We’re now past the halfway point for the film season of 2014. The year has seen it’s share of hits, bombs and surprises. Many look at the box-office numbers some that these films generate as a sign of their success. Others look at how the critics-at-large have graded these films as a way to determine whether they’ve been successful.

I know some people would list nothing but independent arthouse films as their best. They look at genre and big-budget films as not being worthy of being the best of the year, so far. It’s that sort of thinking that limits one’s appreciation of film, in general.

Does having a 150 million dollar budget mean that a film cannot be one of the best of the year. Past history will suggest that’s not the case. Yet, there are cinephiles out there who will dismiss such films because they consider it as being too Hollywood. The same goes for people who look down upon genre films like horror, scifi, westerns and many others that do not fit their slice-of-life drama study. They’re not existential enough for some.

I’ve come to look at all the films I’ve been fortunate enough to see through the first six months of 2014 and picked 9 of the best (I picked a random odd number since Lisa Marie already does the even numbers thing) no matter their genre, type of film and budget. I’ve picked a couple of scifi films, a documentary, an action-packed blockbuster sequel, a wonderfully made 3-D animated film (itself a sequel), a neo-noir Western, a brutal crime-thriller, an indie horror-thriller and one of the best comedies of the last couple years.

In no special order….

noah-banner222Noah (dir. by Darren Aronofsky)

capawsmovarthc-cvr-a91f8Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dir. by Anthony and Joe Russo)

cold_in_july_ver2_xlgCold in July (dir. by Jim Mickle)

HTTYD2How To Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. by Dean DuBois)

JodorowskysDuneJodorowsky’s Dune (dir. by Frank Pavich)

the-raid-2-berandal01The Raid 2: Berandal (dir. by Gareth Evans)

Snowpiercer (dir. by Bong Joon-ho)

GrandPianoGrand Piano (dir. by Eugenio Mira)

22JumpStreet22 Jump Street (dir. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller)

My honorable mentions: All Cheerleaders Die, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Joe, Edge of Tomorrow, Lego: The Movie, Blue Ruin, Locke, Under the Skin, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Sacrament

Embracing the Melodrama #35: Dance or Die (dir by Richard Munchkin)


Dance or Die

Every month, the Alamo Drafthouse has something that they call the Video Vortex.  This is where, for one night only, they show a movie that are only available on VHS.  For the most part, these movies are usually very obscure, often quite strange, and, not surprisingly, really, really bad.  However, on the plus side, it only costs a dollar to get into Video Vortex and it gives people like me a chance to see films with titles like Dance or Die.

In all probability, of the 50 films that I’m reviewing in this series, Dance or Die is probably the one that nobody else has ever heard of.  That’s understandable because Dance or Die is a pretty bad film and, when it was released way back in 1987, it apparently went straight to video.  If not for the fact that the Alamo Drafthouse is just a few blocks away from me, I would probably never have heard of — much less seen — Dance or Die.

Dance or Die tells the story of Jason Chandler (Roy Kieffer), a choreographer who is also a recovering drug addict.  Jason spends his time either choreographing a show or teaching a dance class.  That’s not me being a vague reviewer.  That’s me pointing out the fact that the film itself seems to be unsure just what exactly it is that Jason spends all of his time doing, beyond the fact that it somehow involves dancing.  At the end of the movie, there’s a hilariously bad dance performance that Jason apparently choreographed.  (I say bad but I have to admit that it’s believably bad and I’ve been involved in worse.)  Are the dancers Jason’s students or are they supposed to be professionals?  Who knows?

We’re also left uncertain as to just when exactly Jason was a drug addict or what he was addicted to or anything else like that.  All we know is that he goes to meetings that have a definite AA feel to them and he has heart-to-heart talks with his drug counselor.  He often says that he’s feeling tempted to return to his old way but what were those ways?

And another thing — if Jason’s a recovering drug addict, is it really a good idea for him to be roommates with a guy who spends all of his spare time selling cocaine out of their apartment?  If I was Jason’s counselor, I’d probably tell him to find a new roommate.  However, in all fairness, the roommate (whose name I never caught — in fact, I’m not sure if it’s ever stated) does tell Jason not to touch any of the cocaine.

And here’s another question for you — why do Jason and his roommate keep an aquarium in their back yard?  It’s just sitting out there with a bunch of confused fish wondering why they’re not being kept in the living room.  When Jason’s roommate holds an outdoor barbecue, a bunch of gangster pop up out of nowhere and gun everyone down and, sad to say, the aquarium is destroyed.

Fortunately, during the massacre, Jason was out doing whatever the Hell it is that he does all day.  (For the most part, it looks like he spends most of his time driving his car.  The film takes place in Las Vegas and you better believe that whenever Jason goes out for a drive, he makes sure to go by a few locations that scream, “Hey, we filmed in Vegas!”)  Jason is naturally upset to discover a bunch of dead people in his house and he’s even more upset when a homicide detective suggests that maybe Jason knows more than he’s telling.  But Jason doesn’t do anything crazy like move out of the house.  Even after he starts to get threatening phone calls, Jason stays in the house.

It turns out that Jason’s roommate hid a file somewhere in the house.  Jason spends most of the movie searching for that file and he even gets desperate enough to bring in a psychic at one point.  However, the file really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is whether or not Jason will be able to resist the temptation to start using drugs again.  Will Jason resist his demons?  Will he find love with one of the two women who are inexplicably attracted to him?  And will the presence of gun-toting gangsters ruin the big dance performance?

Oh, the drama!

Yes, Dance or Die is a pretty inept film but it’s one of those films that, quite unintentionally, has a compellingly surreal feel to it.  It may not work as a thriller or an attempt to explore addiction but it does definitely work as a piece of performance art.  Add to that, there’s dancing!  To be honest, I could have used a lot more dancing but the final performance of Jason’s dance troupe (or students or whatever they’re supposed to be) simply has to be seen to be believed.

Now, I know what you’re wondering.  “Gee, Lisa, how can I see this movie?”

Well, fear not.

The movie is below!

Embracing the Melodrama #34: The Lonely Lady (dir by Peter Sasdy)


The_lonely_lady

“I guess I’m not the only who has had to fuck her way to the top!” — Jerilee Randall (Pia Zadora), accepting an award at The Awards Ceremony in The Lonely Lady (1983)

When I first started doing research on which movies were worthy of being considered for inclusion in this series about embracing the melodrama, I had no idea that it would eventually lead to me watching the worst film ever made.

However, that is exactly what happened.  1983’s The Lonely Lady is without a doubt the worst film that I have ever seen.  Normally, this is where I would say that the film is entertaining specifically because it is so bad but no, this movie just terrible.  Is it so bad that its good?  No, it’s just bad.  Is it one of those films that you simply have to see to believe?  Well, that depends on how much faith you have in God.  Does the film at least have a curiosity value?  Well, maybe.  As bad as you think this movie may be, it’s even worse.

Seriously, to say this film is a piece of crap is to do a disservice to crap.

The Lonely Lady tells the story of Jerilee Randall (Pia Zadora, who also played the girl martian in the classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martian), an aspiring writer who learns about the dark side of Hollywood.  The movie opens with Jerilee graduating from Valley High School and receiving a special prize for being the school’s most promising English major.  Now, from the very beginning, we run into several issues.  Number one, Pia looks way too old to be in high school and the fact that they decided to put her hair in pig tails doesn’t change the fact.  Number two, Pia Zadora is even less convincing as a writer than she was as a girl martian.

At the graduation party, Joe (played by Ray Liotta, of all people) violates Jerilee with a garden hose, in an amazingly ugly scene that pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film.  No longer an innocent optimist, Jerilee moves out to Hollywood where she ends up married to award-winning screenwriter Walter Thornton (Lloyd Bochner).  When she secretly helps Walter rewrite his latest script (she replaces a long monologue with two lines of dialogue: “Why!?  Why!?”), Walter grows jealous and starts to taunt her by holding up a garden hose.  Jerilee and Walter divorce and Jerilee ends up sleeping with everyone else in Hollywood in an attempt to get a screenplay of her own produced.  Eventually, this leads to Jerilee having a nervous breakdown in which the keys of her typewriter are replaced with the accusatory faces of everyone in her life…

Bleh!  You know what?  Describing this plot is probably making The Lonely Lady sound a lot more interesting than it actually is.  Imagine if Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls was meant to be taken seriously and you have a pretty good idea what The Lonely Lady is like.

Furthermore, I’ve seen a lot of films that claim to be about writers.  Occasionally, we get lucky and the writer is played be an actor who you could actually imagine writing something worth reading.  (Perhaps the best recent example would be Paul Dano, who was completely believable as a critically acclaimed writer in Ruby Sparks.)  However, most of the time, we end up with actors who you can hardly imagine having the either the discipline or the intellectual ability to write anything worth reading.  And then, in the case of The Lonely Lady, we get Pia Zadora who is not only unbelievable as a writer but also as a human being as well.  Watching her performance, you’re shocked that she can remember to breathe from minute to minute, much less actually write anything longer than her first name.

I know it’s a pretty big claim to say that one movie is the worst ever made.  So, feel free to watch The Lonely Lady and then let me know if you agree.

(Be warned — this movie is NSFW and generally sucks.)

Embracing the Melodrama #33: Endless Love (dir by Franco Zefferilli)


endless love

Do anyone remember a movie that came out in February that was called Endless Love? If you do, you’ve got a better memory than I do because, even though I saw it, I really can’t really remember much about it beyond the fact that I was disappointed by it. I know I had high hopes because the trailer was damn sexy but the film itself just turned out to be rather bland and forgettable.

Well, the 2014 version of Endless Love may have been forgettable but the same can not be said of the original 1981 version.

Endless Love tells the sweet story of two teenagers who want to have sex.  Well, actually, it’s debatable how sweet the story is  because the boy is a creepy stalker-type and the girl appears to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome but director Franco Zefferilli directs the film as if he’s bringing to life the greatest romance of all time.  The entire film is full of lush images and the swelling musical score suggests that we should hope that these two end up together, even as the boy is burning down the girl’s house.

(Believe me, I love elaborate expressions of love and romantic feelings as much as the next girl but I draw the line at burning down my house.)

David (Martin Hewitt) and Jade (Brooke Shields) both live in the suburbs of Chicago.  Jade’s parents are aging hippies.  Her father (Don Murray) may smoke weed with the neighborhood teenagers and play the trumpet at wild parties but he’s still very protective of his daughter.  Her mother (Shirley Knight) is far more permissive and open-minded.  Jade’s brother, Keith (played by a really young and dangerous-looking James Spader), is friends with David and invites him to a party at his house.  David meets Jade and soon, the two of them are obsessed with each other.

However, not everyone is happy about their newfound love.  Jade’s father doesn’t trust David.  Keith soon starts saying stuff like, “Just because you’re fucking my sister, that doesn’t make you a part of the family.”  (And, as rude as that may be, it’s really hot when said by a young and dangerous-looking James Spader.)  Meanwhile, David’s mom (Beatrice Straight) doesn’t want David hanging out with a family that she describes as being “a relic of the 60s.”

Eventually, Jade is spending so much time thinking about David that her grades start to suffer and she finds that she can no longer sleep.  She starts stealing her father’s sleeping pills.  When she’s caught in the act, David is forbidden from seeing her until the end of the school year.  “It’s only 30 days,” Jade’s mom promises him.

Well, that’s 30 days too long for David!

Taking the advice of a young arsonist (played, in his film debut and with a notably squeaky voice, by Tom Cruise), David decides to set Jade’s house on fire.  His original plan is to save Jade and her family and be hailed as a hero.  Instead, the fire ends up raging out of control and the house is destroyed.

Arrested for arson, David spends some time in a mental asylum and is legally forbidden from ever seeing Jade or her family again.  Eventually, David gets out of the asylum and that’s when the movie gets really weird…

Endless Love is a really creepy movie that makes the mistake of equating stalking with true romance.  There’s no other way to put it.  Yet, at the same time, Franco Zefferilli’s images are so vividly romantic and Martin Hewitt and Brooke Shields are both so physically attractive (never mind that neither one of them apparently knew how to act back in 1981) that you can’t help but sometimes get swept up in the film’s silliness.  Add to that, the film has a great soundtrack and you also get a chance to see Tom Cruise act like a total jackass.

Check it out below!

Embracing the Melodrama #32: Ordinary People (dir by Robert Redford)


ordinary_people_oc87rd_1

For the past seven days, I’ve been reviewing — in chronological order — fifty of the most memorable melodramas ever filmed.  We started with a silent film from 1916 and now, we have reached the 80s.  What better way to kick off the decade than by taking a look at the 1980 Best Picture winner, Ordinary People?

Directed by Robert Redford, Ordinary People tells the story of the upper middle class Jarrett family.  On the surface, the Jarretts appear to be the perfect family.  Calvin Jarrett (Donald Sutherland) has a successful career.  Beth (Mary Tyler Moore) keeps a perfect home and appears to be the ideal suburban matriarch.  However, one summer, their oldest son drowns in a sailing accident and their youngest son, sensitive Conrad (Timothy Hutton), attempts to commit suicide.  After spending four months in a psychiatric hospital, Conrad come back home and the family struggles to put their lives back together.  Even though he starts to see a therapist (Judd Hirsch) and starts dating his classmate Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern), Conrad still struggles with his feelings of guilt over having survived.  Beth’s struggle to maintain a facade of normalcy leads to several fights between her and Conrad with Calvin trapped in the middle.

Among my fellow film bloggers, there’s always going to be a very vocal group that is going to hate Ordinary People because it won the Oscar for best picture over challenging black-and-white films directed by Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull) and David Lynch (The Elephant Man).  They always tend to complain that Ordinary People is a conventional film that tells a conventional story and that it was directed by a very conventional director.  More than once, I’ve seen an online film critic refer to Ordinary People as being a “big budget Lifetime movie.”

Well, you know what?

I love Lifetime.  Lifetime is the best network on television and to me, a big budget Lifetime movie would be the best Lifetime movie of all.  And, at the risk of alienating all of my film-loving friends, if I had to choose between watching Raging Bull and Ordinary People, I’m going to pick Ordinary People every time.  Raging Bull is visually stunning and features great performances but it’s also two hours spent watching an incredibly unlikable human being beating the crap out of anyone who is foolish enough to love him.  Ordinary People may essentially look like a TV show but it’s also about characters that you can understand and that, as the film progresses, you grow to truly care about.

Yes, I do wish that the character of Beth had been given more of a chance to talk about her feelings and it’s hard not to feel that Ordinary People places too much blame on the mother.  But, even so, the film still ends with vague — if unlikely — hope that Beth will eventually be able to move past her anger and reconnect with her family.  The film may be hard on Beth but it never gives up on her.  That’s what distinguishes Ordinary People for me.  In many ways, it’s a very sad film.  It’s a film that was specifically designed to make you cry and I certainly shed a few tears while I watched it.  But, even with its somewhat ambiguous ending, Ordinary People is also a very optimistic movie.  It’s a movie that says that, as much pain as we may have in our life,we can recover and life can go on and it’s okay to be sad and its also okay to be happy.

And that’s an important lesson to learn.

(That said, if I had been alive and an Academy voter in 1981, I would have voted for The Elephant Man.)

And, for all you Oscar lovers out there, here are clips of Timothy Hutton and Robert Redford winning Oscars for their work on Ordinary People.