I haven’t done one of these in awhile. This is when I showcase four movies available at the time of posting that any cinema snob should watch. I was going to go more mainstream, but decided to swing to the totally opposite side and go with experimental/underground movies. The upside is, that means they are short. The downside is, you may or may not have any idea what’s going on. Please don’t let that stop you from soaking these films up anyways. It’s well worth it. Never stay away from films such as these because you are afraid of a turned up nose and someone saying, “Clearly you just don’t understand.” Hogwash! Sometimes something as simple as letting images wash over you can be an amazing experience.
Oh, and for those who know. I’m not putting it here this time. Maybe for Mother’s Day, but right now we’ll leave him and that particular film out.
La chambre (1972, dir. Chantal Akerman) – Last year we lost Belgian director Chantal Akerman. She is probably best known for her film Jeanne Dielman (1975), but prior to that she came to America and made some experimental films. I’m taking a guess, but this is probably the most watched of those films. The movie takes place in an apartment as the camera does 360 pans. The woman in the bed is Akerman herself. I’m not going to try and explain this one. It’s only about 10 minutes. Just make sure to pay attention to her, the degree to which the camera pans, and anything else that seems important to you. These are all films meant to be interpreted by you, not by someone else for you.
Wavelength (1967, dir. Michael Snow) – Michael Snow is an experimental filmmaker from Canada. This is definitely thee Michael Snow movie. I know I can’t force you to, but really try to not mute it. The sound is important even if it is annoying. This one I can tell you a little about. If I recall correctly, the point is that unlike most films where people are the characters that pass through the sets, the film wants you to spend so much time with the set itself that it becomes the character. At least that’s what I remember a book telling me once. Regardless, this is essentially viewing for a cinema snob. You’ll find it on list after list after list.
Zorns Lemma (1970, dir. Hollis Frampton) – No idea what the stuff is at the beginning nor at the end means. I’ll leave that to you. However, what takes place in between I think I can explain. Put simply, it’s a film that slowly, but surely replaces the written alphabet with the language of images. If you keep that in mind while you watch it, then I believe you will enjoy it.
Rose Hobart (1936, dir. Joseph Cornell) – Ah, this is the experimental for Hollywood Snobs like Gary. To make this movie, director Joseph Cornell reedited and reworked footage from the 1931 film East Of Borneo to…I don’t really have a clue. I’ll just borrow from IMDb and say the obvious. It’s the footage put together in order to highlight the actress in the title of the film. Once again, essentially viewing here. The film the footage is from on the other hand is interesting, but it’s not something I would seek out unless you’re big into anything pre-code.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a mercenary with a sense of humor and a heart of not quite gold. When he is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he leaves his girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), and agrees to allow a secret organization to experiment on him. They will cure his cancer but, in return, they expect him to serve as a super powered slave for their own clients. After being severely disfigured by the sadistic Ajax (Ed Skrein), Wilson develops a super human healing ability. Eventually, Wilson escapes but now fears that he’s too twisted to return to Vanessa. Taking on the identity of Deadpool, Wilson tries to track down and get his revenge on Ajax (real name: Francis).
From the moment I heard that 20th Century Fox was producing a Deadpool film, I had only one request: “Don’t fuck it up.”
After all, there is a reason why Deadpool is one of the most popular characters to come out of Marvel’s later period. He’s certainly the best thing that Rob Liefeld has ever had a hand in creating. First introduced in New Mutants and subsequently used in the various X-books before getting his own ground-breaking series, Deadpool has earned the right to be known as “the merc with a mouth.” Deadpool was popular because, out of all the characters in the Marvel Universe, he alone understood that he was in a comic book. He would frequently break the fourth wall and talk about how ridiculous life as a comic book antihero was. At a time when almost all other super powered characters were presented as being grim and troubled, Deadpool was the often vulgar antidote to comic books that took themselves too seriously.
(My favorite Deadpool moment was when Deadpool had been once again incorrectly assumed dead. When Blind Al told Weasel that Deadpool was dead, the footnote at the bottom of the panel read, “Guess the series is over!”)
I saw Deadpool last weekend.
They did not fuck it up.
My biggest fear was that the Deadpool movie would present a neutered or toned down Deadpool but there was no need to worry. Though the film’s plot may be a standard origin story with a revenge subplot tossed in, Deadpool distinguishes itself by staying true to the character’s anarchistic and self-referential humor. This is not a case of Dolph Lundgren putting on a trenchcoat, driving a motorcycle, and calling himself the Punisher. And it is certainly not a case of the strange character that Ryan Reynolds played in X-Men Origins who was supposed to be Deadpool but definitely was not. Deadpool allows Deadpool to be Deadpool, right down to the red uniform, the broken fourth wall, and the R-rated humor and violence. Deadpool earns its R rating and wears it as a badge of honor This is not a movie for children. Everything that most heroes do and say off-camera, Deadpool does and says for the entire audience to see and hear.
That’s not Deadpool!
Deadpool ends with the promise of a sequel, perhaps one that will include Cable. Since Cable is one of my least favorite Marvel characters, I hope that the sequel will at least see the return of Colossus (rendered by CGI and voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Briana Hildebrand), both of whom make welcome appearances here. Negasonic Teenage Warhead especially deserves her own spin-off film. Let her blow up shit for two hours. I’ll watch.
Also, if the sequel has to feature Cable, I hope it will also include Dr. Bong. Deadpool needs all the help he can get!
I’m writing this post while battling a nasty case of the flu, so it’s probably going to be a short one. That’s okay though, because really, what can I say about REEFER MADNESS? It’s terrible filmmaking, and dull as dishwater. There are plot holes so wide you could drive a semi through them. This little exploitation number would’ve been long forgotten after making the rounds on the grindhouse and roadshow circuits, until it was rediscovered by the stoner crowd in the 70’s and turned into an ironic midnight cult movie.
The movie itself finds stodgy Dr. Carroll lecturing the local School-Parent Group to help “stamp out this frightful assassin of youth” marijuana. He recounts what happened when some kids got hooked on the stuff. Seems this gang of drug pushers were out to corrupt American youth by turning them on at an apartment run by no-goods Mae and Jack. Sweet Mary’s brother…
“And I would do anything for love. I’d run right into hell and back. I would do anything for love. I’ll never lie to you, and that’s a fact. But I’ll never forget the way you feel right now. Oh, no. No way. And I would do anything for love. But I won’t do that. No I won’t do that. Anything for love. Oh, I would do anything for love. I would do anything for love. But I won’t do that. No I won’t do that.”
-I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) performed by Meatloaf and written by David Steinman
Okay, as much as that song fits the tile, they really couldn’t open a romantic comedy with such a serious operatic song. Instead, we dip into another 1970’s artist’s repertoire for a song. Well, 1970s when she was solo. That being Linda Ronstadt singing When Will I Be Loved.
The movie begins and we are introduced to Katherine Benson (Erika Christensen) and Jack Cooper (Paul Greene) as they both get ready for work. She’s a president of a real estate firm and he is a nurse. I have to admit that while I recognized Linda’s voice, I wasn’t sure who it was till I looked it up later. Also, it didn’t help that the movie cuts to Jack in bed during the song and his Great Dane is named Roxy. Of course that made me think of Roxy Music and their song More Than This.
However, while Bill Murray was in Lost In Translation, sang the song, it was directed by Sofia Coppola, and Paul Greene was in her film Somewhere (2010), there is a more appropriate Roxy Music song for a later scene.
As soon as Katherine arrives at work we meet her secretary named Debbie.
I’m really not sure if we are meant to look down on Debbie for dating so many men or not. I get the feeling that we aren’t. She is supposed to stand in contrast to Katherine as someone who may be just an executive assistant, but seems to be a whole lot happier because she puts herself out there. Katherine seems wound pretty tight and isolated even if she is rich and powerful.
Despite her tough exterior and what she soon says to her father, I’d say Katherine wants to know what love is (I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner).
Hey! If Hallmark can start whipping out Billy Joel, REO Speedwagon, and Linda Ronstadt, then I can add some great music to my reviews too.
We now meet Katherine’s father named Edward Benson (Tom Butler). He walks right in and tells us her it’s about time she gets serious with her boyfriend named Charles (Antonio Cupo). She’s worried that he might just want to get his hands on her company. That’s when Dad pulls out the big guns.
That’s right! A picture of her on a pony. He reminds her of how scared she was to get on it till he got her on it and walked with her the whole way. He says he would walk “a million circles before I’d ever let any harm come to you”. That may be true, but she deserves a man who would walk 500 miles just to fall down at her door (I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)).
I kind of feel bad if the movie is going to make this so easy for me. Nevertheless, since he did whip out the pony and they did start with Ronstadt, I simply can’t let it slide. Here is The Stone Poneys’ Different Drum. Even if it is getting a little ahead of myself.
Now we go to work with Jack at the hospital. There is a little subplot here, but I’m gonna be blunt. That subplot is really just there for one reason. So that we can at least see Jack do some nursing. He just basically tries to help the kid from shutting himself out from the world and only living in fear of his upcoming surgery. He sort of takes away his gaming device to give him a book. I thought it was a bit ridiculous since studies have shown that gaming really helps patients in hospitals. However, honestly, it isn’t helping this particular kid. It still comes across as a bit of pandering to a fear of technology and modern culture, but I’m okay with it here.
This is as good a time as any to mention that any weirdness about male nurses in this movie is kind of stupid. I mean if this were the pre-ER days, then sure. But it isn’t. That show had plenty of male nurses and was extremely popular. It just seemed dumb to me. Luckily, our man Jack basically feels the same way even if his unhelpful friend here is making him a bit of a jealous guy when they are looking at ladies throwing themselves at the doctors. I’m going with the Roxy Music cover version here since I promised at least one more their songs (Jealous Guy by Roxy Music).
Now we go out with Katherine and her boyfriend Charles. Charles does the standard low key I’m not the right guy Hallmark thing. He also proposes. Well, sort of.
He seems to want to pin her and go steady. I’d cue up Neil Sedaka, but that would imply this is them going steady again. I’d say he’s thinking more When In Rome’s The Promise…
while she’s feeling more like Real Life’s Send Me An Angel rather than sticking me with Charles.
That awkward moment when you spend a bunch of time looking for the appropriate song for a scene, go with Send Me An Angel, then come to the next scene only to remember that one of the minor characters is named Angel. These girls are just here to setup what both Katherine and Jack are going to do for love. We find out from Jack’s friend that he should lie about his job to get girls. In his case it’s upscaling to a doctor. In the next scene, it’s Debbie convincing Katherine that she should downscale to an executive assistant like herself in order to get men. This leads both to put up fake profiles on a dating website. It also means I get to post Lies by The Knickerbockers.
Yes, you are reading the title of the website right. So here you go with The Go-Go’s Head Over Heels.
And yes, Debbie is signing Katherine up as if she is her. I love that her favorite food is “Black Coffee”. That, and is that a fake pharmaceutical type ad at the bottom of the dating website?
I guess that’s a yes. You can see that Jack is being honest. Sadly, his friend is in the room. While Jack steps out of the room, he changes Jack’s occupation to a doctor and submits the profile causing Jack to not know he hasn’t been truthful.
The funny thing is, that’s a real dating website run in the UK.
Now we get something that I just plain don’t get.
The sign behind the lady. There’s no drugs on the premises? What? This is a hospital. Wouldn’t drugs be all over the place. Please if you have an explanation for this then tell me cause it makes no sense to me. However, I think it’s a mistake cause the sign is covered over later in the movie.
Now they start dating which begins with bowling. I’m sorry, but we’ll just have to imagine they left the skinheads at home cause Camper Van Beethoven has the only bowling song I know (Take The Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven).
I like the sweet scene that follows. Katherine walks into her office to find two sets of flowers. One is from Charles and the other is for Debbie, as Katherine tells her father. However, they are for Katherine and she treasures them. It’s a nice scene.
So there’s your setup. You have Jack who believes he is dating a woman named Debbie who is an executive assistant that thinks he is a doctor. You have Katherine who is playing along, but only in that she is named Debbie and an executive assistant. Not in her feelings for him. Jack does figure it out though, but decides to play along that he is a doctor.
Ultimately, they are going to end up together after a minor speed bump. Yes, the whole he’s not a doctor thing of course, and Charles is behind the reveal. We have stuck with largely 1980s songs so let’s go with what Charles does to get information on Jack. Sing it, Hall & Oates!
She actually breaks it off with Jack and nearly ends up with Charles, but after saying things that are important to a relationship, she throws him a curve ball. He asks him if he would want her if she had Debbie’s job. This is not the face you want to give anyone you want to believe that you are never gonna give up.
And yes, that means Rick Astley.
Didn’t think you were going to get away without him, did you?
The movie has a cute scene where Katherine goes to the hospital and pages Jack. Jack hears it then pages her. They briefly talk, then kiss.
The movie doesn’t explicitly say it really, but it’s very much implied that this is one step away from marriage. In other words, together forever, which of course were the words I used so that I could include Rick Astley again.
Oh, and of course the kid goes off to surgery okay. The book did help him to stop ruminating, calm down, and go forward with what he needed to do.
What are my final thoughts? It’s just a little above average I would say. It avoids some of the typical cliches and doesn’t feel cheap. Case in point, when they are on the roof of a building, they are actually outside. Sadly, that is not a given in Hallmark movies. Don’t seek it out, but if it’s on, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you like Hallmark romance movies.
If you’ve put up with all my musical references, then I end this with probably the most bizarre music video for a love song I’ve ever seen: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness.